The NFL world is shaken today with the death of long time coach, Tony Sparano. An NFL coach for 19 years, Sparano was known for being an offensive line guru. He was also extremely well-liked by his players, coaches, and the media.
I can tell you from my personal dealings with Sparano that he was as real as they come. And to know Tony was to love him. He was just 56 years of age at his passing and still the current offensive line coach of the Minnesota Vikings, making it all the more difficult to digest his sudden passing.
Sparano was a head coach in the league for five seasons, one with the Raiders in 2014. He was also the team’s offensive line coach in 2013-14.
His former players are each finding out of his death as the day goes on and expressing their adoration and sadness at his passing.
Among the first to chime in was Donald Penn who Sparano coached in Oakland in 2014. Sparano had been the team’s offensive line coach for a year at that point.
Damn I’m at a loss for words RIP coach Sparano taught me so much not just about football about life also one of the biggest reasons why I signed with the @RAIDERS was because of you coach thanks for everything love you coach RIP— Donald Penn (@DPENN70) July 22, 2018
Soon thereafter came Khalil Mack and Derek Carr who were rookies in 2014 when Sparano took over as interim head coach, replacing Dennis Allen. Both players got their first wins as pros with Sparano as their coach.
RIP Coach Sparano— Khalil Mack (@52Mack_) July 22, 2018
Sporano Family I am so sorry for your loss. Coach believed in me, trusted me, and stuck with me as a rookie. He would check on my family every HC and QB meeting we would have! He was a great man! I love you coach!— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) July 22, 2018
Charles Woodson was shocked with the news as well. He returned to the Raiders the same year Sparano joined the team as offensive line coach and spent two years with him in Oakland.
Former receiver James Jones also spent the 2014 season in Oakland under Sparano and shared his heartache at the loss of his former coach.
Raiders former defensive coordinator Jason Tarver chimed in as well.
Our family’s thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Sparano family. It was an honor to work with Tony in Oakland and in San Francisco. Thank you Coach for our long talks in your always dark office about football, life and most importantly family!— Jason Tarver (@CoachJTarver) July 22, 2018
Love you my friend. R.I.P. https://t.co/jmigoMpVpS
There will be more as the day goes along. Several teams have also released statements and you figure at some point the Raiders will as well.