Tony Siragusa passed away on Wednesday, June 22, and members of the Baltimore Ravens have been paying their respects to the former defensive tackle who helped the franchise win its first Super Bowl.
The news of Siragusa’s death was first reported by TMZ Sports. While no cause of death was revealed, the 55-year-old’s passing was confirmed by former teammate Jamal Lewis: “It’s a sad day to be a Raven I must say.”
Lewis was a rookie during the 2000 season when Siragusa and a record-setting defense led the Ravens to a 35-7 win over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. Others connected to the organization have joined Lewis in remembering the player nicknamed ‘Goose.’
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Ravens Remember Key Figure from Franchise Glory Years
Among those to offer tributes to Siragusa were Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti and his wife Renee. A press release on the team’s official website carried Bisciotti’s comments:
Renee and I are stunned and heartbroken to learn about the sudden passing of Tony Siragusa. 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.
On the football field, Goose was a difference-maker who contributed immeasurably to the success of many great Ravens defenses, including the record-setting 2000 Super Bowl team.
Our deepest prayers and sympathies go out to Kathy, their three children and the rest of the Siragusa family.
Siragusa joined the Ravens as a free agent in 1997 on the watch of then-general manager Ozzie Newsome. The latter remembers Siragusa’s colorful personality and his force on the field: “Goose was quite a character, but he was one of our leaders on the 2000 Super Bowl team. He was probably one of the best run-stoppers to play for our defense over the years. My heart breaks for Kathy, Samantha, Anthony Jr. and Ava. They are in my prayers.”
While Siragusa initially played for the late Ted Marchibroda, his best years in Baltimore came after Brian Billick became head coach in 1999. Billick credited Siragusa as essential to the Ravens’ title success over two decades ago: “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. We would not have won the Super Bowl without him. This is such stunning, sad news, and our hearts go out to Kathy and the Siragusa family.”
All three of Bisciotti, Newsome and Billick referenced Siragusa’s place on the great 2000 defense. His performances as part of that awesome unit formed Siragusa’s legacy as a player.
‘Goose’ the Cornerstone of Historic Defense
The Ravens fielded the stingiest scoring defense in NFL history during the 2000 season. Under coordinator Marvin Lewis, the unit allowed just 165 points.
Middle linebacker Ray Lewis was the star, while fellow Hall of Famer Rod Woodson quarterbacked an opportunistic secondary. Yet, the true foundation of this group was the mammoth defensive tackle tandem of Siragusa and Sam Adams.
They both tipped the scales at over 340 pounds and kept Lewis clean so he could win NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Fittingly, Lewis had nothing but love for Siragusa in a statement relayed by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo:
Lewis was the biggest beneficiary of the Siragusa-Adams wall. The trio limited opposing runners to a scarcely believable 2.7 yards a carry, per Pro Football Reference.
Adams remembered the “privilege” of playing next to Siragusa for two seasons: “It was an honor and a privilege to line up next to Tony Siragusa. He made the game fun and was a true competitor. Our D-line room was special on and off the field. May he rest easy, and may God bless and keep his family.”
Siragusa’s formidable presence on the field first became obvious as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. He joined the franchise that controversially left Baltimore in 1984 as an undrafted free agent in 1990.
By 1995, Siragusa was the anchor of a tough and sophisticated defense that helped the Colts reach the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Colts ultimately lost 20-16, but Siragusa’s tip of a Neil O’Donnell pass created an interception for Jeff Herrod early on in what has become something of a forgotten classic.
Colts owner Jim Irsay shared his own fond memories of Siragusa:
Irsay’s sentiments about Siragusa’s passion for life were echoed by Woodson: “Tony was always the life of the party. I know he loved his family and friends. My feelings are overwhelmed right now with grief for his family.”
Siragusa’s enthusiasm and entertaining idiosyncrasies made him a natural in front of the camera. He found success as a sideline reporter for Fox Sports NFL and landed cameo roles on The Sopranos and 25th Hour.
Siragusa was a popular figure on and off the field in Baltimore. His passing came on the same day Ravens outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson died at the age of 26.