Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano died on Sunday at the age of 56, the team announced.
No details of the cause of death were given by the team, but ESPN’s Chris Mortenson says Sparano had gone to the hospital with chest pains on Thursday and was released on Friday.
Sparano’s wife found him unconscious in their kitchen as the couple were about to leave for church, Mortenson reported. She tried giving him CPR, but failed to revive him.
“Our hearts go out to Jeanette and the entire Sparano family as we all mourn the loss of Tony,” Mark and Zygi Wilf, the Vikings owners, said in a statement. “Tony was a passionate and driven individual who cared deeply about his family, and especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. Tony’s presence within the Vikings organization will be deeply missed. We are only thinking of Tony’s family during this incredibly difficult time. We ask that the entire NFL and Vikings family keep the Sparanos in their thoughts.”
Sparano, the former Miami Dolphins head coach, joined the Vikings in 2016. He went 32-41 in parts of five seasons as an NFL head coach.
He began his NFL coaching career in 1999 as an offensive quality control coach with the Cleveland Browns, then was promoted to the offensive line coach in 2000.
After stints with the Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys, he was hired by the Dolphins as their head coach in 2008.
He went 29-32 with the Dolphins over nearly four seasons.
He also worked as interim head coach with the Oakland Raiders in 2014, finishing the season 3-9, but was not retained.
Sparano went 41-14-1 at Division II New Haven from 1994-98 before beginning his NFL career.
Sparano is survived by his wife Jeanette and three children.
—Field Level Media