Tony Siragusa, the charismatic defensive tackle who helped lead a stout Baltimore defense to a Super Bowl title, has died. He was 55.
Siragusa's broadcast agent, Jim Ornstein, confirmed the death Wednesday. The cause of death was not immediately available.
“This is a really sad day,” he said. “Tony was way more than my client, he was family. My heart goes out to Tony’s loved ones.”
Siragusa, known as “Goose,” played seven seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and five with the Ravens. Baltimore's 2000 team won the Super Bowl behind a defence that included Siragusa, Ray Lewis and Sam Adams.
Siragusa was popular with fans because of his fun-loving personality, which also helped him transition quickly to broadcasting after his playing career.
“There was no one like Goose — a warrior on the field and a team unifier with a giving, generous heart who helped teammates and the community more than most people know,” said Brian Billick, the coach of that Super Bowl-winning team. “We would not have won the Super Bowl without him. This is such stunning, sad news.”
Siragusa came to Baltimore as a free agent in 1997 and teamed up with Adams to form an imposing defensive tackle tandem. In the Ravens’ 2000 championship season, the 6-foot-3, 340-pound Siragusa was sixth among Baltimore defenders with 75 tackles.
He finished his career with 22 sacks.
“I love Goose like a brother. From the first day we met, I knew that life was different. I knew he was someone who would change my life forever,” Lewis said. “He was a one-of-a-kind person who made you feel important and special. You can never replace a man like that.”
The news of Siragusa's death came on what was already a tragic day for the Ravens. The death of Jaylon Ferguson, a linebacker for Baltimore, at age 26 was announced earlier in the day.
“This is a tremendously sad day for the Baltimore Ravens,” owner Steve Bisciotti said. “We appreciate everyone who has expressed an outpouring of support for our players, coaches and staff.”
Siragusa was a star football player and wrestler at David Brearley High School in New Jersey. He then played collegiately at Pittsburgh, where his reputation for wisecracks began well before his NFL career.
“If I wanted to learn a school song, I would’ve 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 turned out to be a force in the NFL for one of the most celebrated defences in the game's history. Then he took his personality to the airwaves, working for Fox's NFL coverage. He also had a role on HBO's “The Sopranos” and hosted shows on the Discovery Channel and DIY Network.
“Tony truly was bigger than life, on and off the field,” current Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. “He played the game passionately and relentlessly. Despite not being drafted, he thrived in the NFL for 12 years. His post-football life took him so many places but he never forgot Pitt. We could always count on him to send the best recorded pep talks to our guys before our biggest games."