Tony Siragusa, the NFL defensive tackle who became one of the game’s biggest players and personalities, died Wednesday at the age of 55.
Siragusa’s cause of death was not immediately available.
Affectionately known as “Goose,” Siragusa was a vital cog in the midst of the Baltimore Ravens’ historic defense in 2000, which led to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title that same season. He began his 12-year career by drinking his $1,000 signing bonus as an undrafted free agent and left the game as one of its unique personalities, known for his irreverent sense of humor and memorable banter.
“There was no one quite like Goose: a warrior on the field and team unifier with a generous and giving heart who helped his teammates and the community more than most people know,” said the former Los Angeles coach. Ravens, Brian Billick. “We wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl without him. This is such amazing and sad news, and our hearts go out to Kathy and the Siragusa family.”
Before joining the Ravens as a free agent in 1997, Siragusa spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Indianapolis Colts. Colts owner Jim Irsay. tweeted that he was “heartbroken like all of Colts Nation.” irsay added in a follow up tweet than “The Goose squeezed 200 years of fun into 55!!”
The Goose squeezed 200 years of fun into 55! He was one of the physically strongest players I’ve seen in 50 years 💪🏼🏈 In Greece, they asked 1 question at the end of life; Did you have passion? In Tony’s case… Yes he did!!💪🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼❤️
—Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) June 22, 2022
Known as a blue-collar running back, Siragusa enjoyed that his biggest moment came with a quarterback hit. In the 2000 AFC Championship Game, Siragusa took out Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, pushing the All-Pro into the turf and severing his left shoulder. The Ravens beat the Raiders, 16-3, to advance to the Super Bowl.
“I saw Rich’s eyes roll back,” Siragusa said at the time. “He’s got every pound of my fat ass on him.”
As much as Siragusa enjoyed being in the spotlight off the field, he was comfortable doing dirty work for one of the best defenses in the NFL, even though it led to countless knee surgeries and no Pro Bowl invitations. . A 6-foot-3, 340-pound wall in the middle, Siragusa double-teamed to allow middle linebacker Ray Lewis to roam free and helped Baltimore set league records for fewest points (165) and rushing yards. (970) in a 16-game season.
“This is a tough question,” Lewis said. “I love Goose like a brother. From the first day we met, I knew life was different. I knew he was someone who would change my life forever. He was a unique person who made you feel important and special. Never you can replace such a man.”
Kicker Matt Stover said, “I truly believe the Super Bowl XXXV team would never have been as good as it was without Tony. Not only did he cover up the middle, but his presence in the locker room created a relaxed atmosphere when things were tight. He will be missed, but he won’t be forgotten.”
Teammates will remember Siragusa for his notorious practical jokes.
There was a time when some of the younger players made a big pot of chocolate in the training room and Siragusa saw an opportunity to douse it with laxative before practice. Siragusa laughed as the players ran off the field.
“They say there’s a person like you everywhere, but I think God made a Goose with that personality,” former Ravens defensive tackle Larry Webster said.
In the first “Hard Knocks,” Siragusa delivered one of the best moments when he barricaded the tight ends in his meeting room with a table. Sharpe stated that he wanted “restitution” and stole Siragusa’s truck to obtain an apology.
Siragusa’s commitment to his team became apparent in 2000, when he was blocked, fell to the ground and could not feel part of his body. His mother ran down from the bleachers and his older brothers ran to the locker room where a golf cart had carried the motionless big man.
“Upside down, I couldn’t move,” Siragusa recalled later. “It was the scariest thing that ever happened to me in my life.”
Medical staff told Siragusa that she at least needed to get an MRI to make sure there was no damage to her spine. He had a bruised spine and was advised not to return. But he paid no heed to that advice.
Siragusa said: “[Defensive line] Coach Rex Ryan came up to me and said, ‘You have a family. Don’t go out again. I told him: ‘You are my family too.’ I have to do this. “
After his retirement, Siragusa was a secondary analyst for Fox Sports from 2003 to 2015. He also had a few acting roles, appearing in “The Sopranos” and the Spike Lee movie “25th Hour.”
“This is a really sad day,” Siragusa broadcast agent Jim Ornstein told The Associated Press. “Tony was much more than my client, he was my family. My heart goes out to Tony’s loved ones.”
Siragusa’s death continued a sad day for the Ravens, who announced the death of outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson later that day. He was 26 years old.
“This is a tremendously sad day for the Baltimore Ravens,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said. “We appreciate everyone who has expressed an outpouring of support for our players, coaches and staff.”