Tony Siragusa, Super Bowl-winning defensive tackle and football television analyst for Fox Sports, died Wednesday, the owners of the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens said. He was 55 years old.
Colts owner Jim Irsay confirmed Siragusa’s death on Twitter. The cause of death has not yet been announced.
Siragusa, nicknamed Goose, played in the NFL for 12 seasons, including seven for the Colts, who acquired him as an undrafted free agent in 1990. He joined the Baltimore Ravens in 1997 and retired after the 2001 season, a year after playing a key defensive role as the franchise won its first Super Bowl.
“Renee and I are stunned and heartbroken to learn of the sudden passing of Tony Siragusa,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said in a statement. “He was a special person and clearly one of the most popular players in Ravens history. Tony’s larger than life personality has had a huge impact on our organization and the entire Baltimore community.
Irsay said on Twitter that Siragusa was fun-loving and “one of the most physically strong players I’ve seen in 50 years”.
Siragusa, known for weighing a towering 330 pounds during his playing days, was a key member of the Ravens’ championship team in the 2000 season. Although that season was one of his worst statistically — he recorded just 27 tackles with no sacks – he contributed to one of the toughest defenses in the NFL, absorbing blockers to allow star linebacker Ray Lewis, defensive back Rod Woodson, lineman Sam Adams and others to succeed in their roles. This unit set NFL records for fewest points allowed (165) and rushing yards allowed (970) in a 16-game regular season.
“On the court, he was the ultimate competitor who brought out the best in all of us,” Lewis said in a statement.
Siragusa, who was born in New Jersey, won a state wrestling championship while attending Brearley High School in Kenilworth, where he also played on the defensive line for the football team. He was also its punter and kicker.
He played college football in Pittsburgh, then signed with the Colts as a free agent, starting 78 games in seven seasons.
In the AFC Championship game for the 2000 season, Siragusa dodged several blockers early in the second quarter and narrowly missed the sacking of Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, who had just thrown the ball before he came on. But Siragusa hit Gannon hard and landed his full weight on the quarterback, injuring Gannon’s left collarbone. Siragusa was later fined, but Gannon’s injury helped the Ravens win, 16-3, en route to a Super Bowl win over the Giants.
“There was no one like Goose – a warrior on the pitch and a team builder with a generous heart who helped his teammates and the community more than most people know,” said Brian Billick, who coached the Ravens from 1998 to 2007. a statement. “We wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl without him.”
Siragusa worked as a Fox Sports broadcaster from 2003 to 2015. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and their three children: Samantha, Ava and Anthony Jr.