Former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano dies unexpectedly at age 56

    Tony Sparano (Courtesy NFL)

    Former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano died Sunday at the age of 56. The Minnesota Vikings, where Sparano had served as offensive line coach since 2016, announced Sparano's death in a statement. No cause of death was provided.

    Sparano was the Dolphins’ head coach from 2008 to 2011, and had quick success in year one, turning a one win season in 2007 into a 11-5 playoff team in 2008. Sparano had a 29–32 record as head coach in Miami before being let go late in the 2011 season.

    Sparano has also been on the coaching staff of the Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, and Vikings.

    The Dolphins reacted on Twitter Sunday afternoon, tweeting "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Coach Tony Sparano."

    Dolphins owner Stephen Ross released a statement, "We were saddened to learn of Tony Sparano’s tragic and unexpected passing today. Tony made an indelible impact on our team’s history and his toughness, grit and leadership were evident to everyone who had the chance to coach with or play for him. On behalf of the entire Dolphins organization, we extend our most heartfelt condolences to his wife Jeanette and the entire Sparano family.”

    Former Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline tweeted, “Heart broken and lost for words! So glad I got to see you and tell you how much you meant to me a month ago.”

    Sparano is survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter and four grandchildren.

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