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Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano dead at age 56

Tony Sparano at the NFL Draft Combine in 2009. | Michael Conroy/AP Photo

Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano died over the weekend at the age of 56. The team released a statement Sunday announcing his passing and requesting privacy for his family.

“Our hearts go out to Jeanette and the entire Sparano family as we all mourn the loss of Tony,” team owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said. “Tony was a passionate and driven individual who cared deeply about his family, and especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren.

“Tony’s presence within the Vikings organization will be deeply missed. We are only thinking of Tony’s family during this incredibly difficult time. We ask that the entire NFL and Vikings family keep the Sparanos in their thoughts.”

Sparano was a longtime NFL coach who filled various roles with nine different franchises over the last 20 years. He served as the Dolphins’ head coach from 2008-11 and also filled the interim gig with the Raiders in 2014. He led Miami to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance in his first year, but was fired in 2011 amid a third straight losing season.

Overall, he posted a 32-41 record as an NFL head coach.

The Vikings hired Sparano to be their offensive line coach in 2016 to reunite with head coach Mike Zimmer. They worked together under Bill Parcells with the Cowboys from 2003-08.