Tony Siragusa, the charismatic defensive tackle who helped lead a strong Baltimore defense to a Super Bowl title, has died. He was 55 years old.
The Baltimore Ravens, for whom Siragusa played five seasons, said Siragusa died “unexpectedly” Wednesday morning. A cause of death was not immediately given.
“It’s a really sad day,” Siragusa broadcast agent Jim Ornstein told The Associated Press. “Tony was so much more than my client, he was part of the family. My heart goes out to Tony’s loved ones.”
Siragusa, known as “the Goose,” played seven seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and five with the Ravens. The Baltimore team in 2000 won the Super Bowl behind a defense that included Siragusa, Ray Lewis and Sam Adams.
“It’s hard. I love Goose like a brother,” Lewis said Wednesday in a statement, adding, “He was a one-of-a-kind person who made you feel important and special. You can never replace a man like that.”
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted, “The Goose spent 200 years having fun in 55!! He was one of the most physically strong players I’ve seen in 50 years. In Greece, they asked 1 question at the end of his life; Did he have passion? In Tony’s case… Yes, he did!!”
Siragusa was popular with fans due to his upbeat personality, which also helped him transition into broadcasting quickly after his playing career.
Siragusa came to Baltimore as a free agent in 1997 and teamed up with Adams to form an imposing tandem of defensive tackles. In the Ravens’ 2000 championship season, the 6-foot-3, 340-pound Siragusa finished sixth among Baltimore defensemen with 75 tackles.
“It was an honor and a privilege to stand in line next to Tony Siragusa,” Adams said in a statement following news of Siragusa’s death. “He made the game fun and was a real competitor. Our D-line room was special on and off the pitch. May he rest easy, and God bless and keep his family.”
Siragusa finished his career with 22 sacks.
News of Siragusa’s death came on an already tragic day for the Ravens. Thea 26-year-old Baltimore linebacker was announced earlier today.
“This is an extremely sad day for the Baltimore Ravens,” owner Steve Bisciotti said. “We appreciate everyone who has expressed their support for our players, coaches and staff.”
Siragusa was a football star and wrestler at David Brearley High School in New Jersey. He then played collegiately in Pittsburgh, where he had a reputation for messing around long before his NFL career.
“If I wanted to learn a song in school, I would have gone to Notre Dame or Penn State,” he once said. “I want to kill people on the football field. That’s why I came to Pitt.”
Siragusa went undrafted before signing with Indianapolis, but he has proven to be a championship-winning force in the NFL. Then he took his on-air persona, working for Fox’s NFL coverage.
“His unrivaled passion for football has established him as one of the most charismatic personalities to ever step on the grill or in front of a camera,” Fox Sports said in a statement. “Goose was natural in his ability to connect the sport and its players with fans around the world.”
Siragusa also had a role on HBO’s “The Sopranos” and hosted shows on the Discovery Channel and DIY Network.
“Tony was truly larger than life, on and off the field,” said Pat Narduzzi, Pitt’s current football coach. “He played the game with passion and relentlessly. Although he was not drafted, he thrived in the NFL for 12 years. His post-football life took him to so many places but he never forgot Pitt. We could always count on him to send the best recorded pep talk to our guys ahead of our biggest games.”