Tony Siragusa, the Super Bowl-winning defensive tackle and football television analyst for Fox Sports, died on Wednesday, owners of the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens said. He was 55 years old.
Jim Irsay, the Colts’ owner, 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, seven of them 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, one year after playing a key defensive role as the franchise won its first Super Bowl.
“Renee and I are stunned and heartbroken to learn about the sudden passing of Tony Siragusa,” Steve Bisciotti, the Ravens’ owner, 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 made an enormous impact on our organization and throughout the Baltimore community.”
Irsay said on Twitter that Siragusa was fun-loving and “one of the most physically strongest players I have seen in 50 years.”
Siragusa, known for his imposing heft at 330 pounds during his playing days, was a key member of the Ravens’ championship team in the 2000 season. While that season was one of his worst statistically — he recorded only 27 tackles without any sacks — he contributed to one of the NFL’s most fearsome defenses, absorbing blockers to allow the star linebacker Ray Lewis, defensive back Rod Woodson, lineman Sam Adams and others to succeed in their roles. That unit set NFL records for the fewest points allowed (165) and rushing yards allowed (970) in a 16-game regular season.
“On the field, 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 wrestling state championship while attending Brearley High School in Kenilworth, where he also played defensive line for the football team. He was also its punter and kicker.
He played collegiate football at Pittsburgh and then signed with the Colts as a free agent, going on to start 78 games over seven seasons.
During the AFC championship game for the 2000 season, Siragusa evaded several blockers early in the second quarter and narrowly missed sacking Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, who had just thrown the ball before he arrived. But Siragusa hit Gannon hard and landed with his full body weight on the quarterback, injuring Gannon’s left collar bone. Siragusa was later fined, but Gannon’s injury helped the Ravens win, 16-3, en route to a Super Bowl victory over the Giants.
“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,” Brian Billick, who coached the Ravens from 1998 to 2007, said in to statement. “We would not have won the Super Bowl without him.”
Siragusa worked as a Fox Sports broadcaster from 2003-15. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and their three children: Samantha, Ava and Anthony Jr.