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4:08 PM ET Tony Siragusa, the NFL defensive deal with who grew to become one...

4:08 PM ET

Tony Siragusa, the NFL defensive deal with who grew to become one of many recreation’s largest gamers and personalities, died Wednesday on the age of 55.

The reason for Siragusa’s demise was not instantly out there.

Affectionately often called “Goose,” Siragusa served as an important cog in the midst of the Baltimore Ravens‘ historic 2000 protection, which spearheaded the franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl title that very same season. He began his 12-year profession by ingesting away his $1,00zero signing bonus as an undrafted free agent and left the sport as one in every of its distinctive personalities who was identified for his irreverent humorousness and memorable pranks.

“There was nobody like Goose — a warrior on the sector and a staff unifier with a giving, beneficiant coronary heart who helped teammates and the neighborhood greater than most individuals know,” former Ravens coach Brian Billick mentioned. “We’d not have gained the Tremendous Bowl with out him. That is such beautiful, unhappy information, and our hearts exit to Kathy and the Siragusa household.”

Earlier than becoming a member of the Ravens as a free agent in 1997, Siragusa spent the primary seven seasons of his profession with the Indianapolis Colts. Colts proprietor Jim Irsay tweeted that he was “coronary heart damaged as is all of Colts Nation.” Irsay added in a follow-up tweet that, “The Goose squeezed 200 enjoyable loving years into 55!!”

Often called a blue-collar run-stuffer, Siragusa loved that his largest second got here on a quarterback hit. Within the 2000 AFC Championship Recreation, Siragusa took out Oakland Raiders quarterback Wealthy Gannon, driving the All-Professional into the turf and separating his left shoulder. The Ravens went on to beat the Raiders, 16-3, to advance to the Tremendous Bowl.

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“I noticed Wealthy’s eyes roll again,” Siragusa mentioned on the time. “He received each pound of my fats ass on him.”

As a lot as Siragusa relished the highlight off the sector, he was comfy with doing the soiled work for one of many NFL’s premier defenses, regardless that it led to numerous knee surgical procedures and no Professional Bowl invites. A 6-foot-3, 340-pound wall within the center, Siragusa occupied double groups to permit center linebacker Ray Lewis to roam freely and helped Baltimore set league data for the fewest factors (165) and dashing yards (970) in a 16-game season.

“It is a powerful one,” Lewis mentioned. “I like Goose like a brother. From the primary day we met, I knew that life was completely different. I knew he was somebody who would change my life perpetually. He was a one-of-a-kind person who made you are feeling essential and particular. You may by no means change a person like that.”

Mentioned kicker Matt Stover: “I really imagine that the Tremendous Bowl XXXV staff would have by no means been pretty much as good because it was with out Tony. He not solely plugged up the center, however his locker room presence created a free atmosphere when issues had been tight. He shall be missed, however not forgotten.”

Teammates will keep in mind Siragusa for his infamous sensible jokes.

There was a time when a number of the youthful gamers made a giant pot of cocoa within the coaching room and Siragusa noticed a possibility to spike it with laxative earlier than follow. Siragusa laughed as gamers rushed off the sector.

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“They are saying there’s a person such as you in all places, however I imagine God made one Goose with that persona,” former Ravens defensive deal with Larry Webster mentioned.

Within the first “Laborious Knocks,” Siragusa delivered one of many prime moments when he barricaded the tight ends of their assembly room with a desk. Sharpe famously declared he needed “restitution,” and he stole Siragusa’s truck to be able to get an apology.

Siragusa’s dedication to his staff was obvious in 2000, when he was blocked, fell to the bottom and could not really feel a part of his physique. His mom got here working down from the stands and his older brothers sprinted to the locker room the place a golf cart had moved the immobile large man.

“From my head down, I could not transfer,” Siragusa recalled later. “It was the scariest factor that is occurred to me in my life.”

The medical workers informed Siragusa he needed to not less than have an MRI to verify there wasn’t spinal harm. He had a bruised backbone, and he was suggested not to return. However he did not heed that recommendation.

Mentioned Siragusa: “[Defensive line] coach Rex Ryan got here as much as me and mentioned ‘You have received a household. Do not return on the market.’ I mentioned, ‘You are my household, too. I’ve received to do that.’ “

Ryan, now an ESPN analyst, mentioned Wednesday that, “Tony was among the best individuals I ever met” and that “it was inconceivable to have a nasty day round him.”

After his retirement, Siragusa was a sideline analyst for Fox Sports activities from 2003 till 2015. He additionally had some performing roles, showing in “The Sopranos” and Spike Lee’s film, “25th Hour.”

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“It is a actually unhappy day,” Siragusa’s broadcast agent, Jim Ornstein, informed The Related Press. “Tony was far more than my shopper, he was household. My coronary heart goes out to Tony’s family members.”

Siragusa’s demise continued a tragic day for the Ravens, which announced the death of outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson earlier within the day. He was 26 years previous.

“It is a tremendously unhappy day for the Baltimore Ravens,” Ravens proprietor Steve Bisciotti mentioned. “We admire everybody who has expressed an outpouring of help for our gamers, coaches and workers.”