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Tony Siragusa, outspoken anchor in the center of Ravens’ first championship defense, dies at 55


Tony Siragusa, the wisecracking wall of flesh acknowledged as “Goose” who anchored the center of a file-location Ravens protection all through the team’s initially Super Bowl operate, died Wednesday, a workforce spokesman stated. He was 55.

The trigger of death was not instantly recognised.

The New Jersey native was an undrafted cost-free agent who started his 12-year NFL vocation with the Indianapolis Colts in advance of he grew to become a supporter favored over 5 seasons with the Ravens from 1997 to 2001. He was a traditional nose deal with, occupying various blockers and clearing area for Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis as the Ravens established a document by permitting just 165 points about a 16-activity year in 2000.

But the 330-pound behemoth was known as significantly for his affable persona as his power on the subject. He was a star of the to start with season of HBO’s documentary collection “Hard Knocks,” putting on shirts that claimed “Big Daddy” throughout the upper body and cracking jokes about how he would torture rookies. That paved the way for an performing occupation and a 13-12 months operate as a pregame and sideline temperament on Fox’s NFL protection.

“He was just a big persona,” recalled his teammate, linebacker Peter Boulware. “When he arrived into the area, he owned it. He was lifetime of the home, existence of the party. He was just the lifestyle of everything.”

“This is a difficult just one,” Mr. Lewis explained in a statement furnished by the Ravens. “I like ‘Goose’ like a brother. From the first day we fulfilled, I understood that lifestyle was distinctive. I realized he was another person who would adjust my lifetime without end. He was a a single-of-a-form particular person who designed you sense essential and particular. You can hardly ever change a guy like that.”

Ravens operator Steve Bisciotti explained he was heartbroken, contacting Mr. Siragusa “a exclusive human being and obviously a single of the most well-liked players in Ravens historical past.”

Mr. Siragusa cherished to spin tales about his Italian roots, strengthened in his hometown of Kenilworth, New Jersey, where there was a street, By means of Vitale, named after his grandparents and a seemingly limitless provide of sausage, ravioli and cannoli. He experienced buddies with nicknames these kinds of as “Big Nose” and “Hacksaw” as he grew into a defensive power at David Brearley Superior and then the University of Pittsburgh.

The father of a few (Samantha, 25 Anthony Jr., 23 and Ava, 20) commenced relationship his spouse, Kathy, in high college, and she later on instructed Baltimore good friends, “I understood the total package deal from the begin.”

Mr. Siragusa was a free spirit, who, when he was not smashing jogging backs, rode a Harley-Davidson, fished for marlin off his 30-foot boat and donned scuba equipment for diving excursions in the Bahamas.

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He arrived to the Ravens in 1997, when the staff was nonetheless battling in its next year just after going from Cleveland.

Kevin Byrne, the team’s longtime spokesman, experienced watched Mr. Siragusa conduct a sack dance in the course of a Ravens decline to the Colts the preceding calendar year, so he assumed a prima donna was getting into his globe.

In its place, he achieved “one of the good and most well-liked characters in Ravens background.”

Mr. Siragusa famously disdained education camp. A single calendar year, he held out, only to get there at the team’s schooling website in Westminster via helicopter. He experienced starved himself for days to make mentor Brian Billick’s bodyweight need and when Mr. Billick claimed he did not in fact have to weigh in, Mr. Siragusa fumed.

One more summer time, he showed up with a paintball gun and used it to torment the team’s rookies and the cleaning workers of the Finest Western exactly where the Ravens stayed. After mentor Ted Marchibroda informed him to slice it out, he fired a last shot a couple feet from a custodian who was cleaning an upper floor. “You skipped one!” Mr. Siragusa bellowed.

When the male climbed down to rant at him, Mr. Siragusa peeled off a roll of payments and handed them in excess of, at last inspiring a smile. “At least he paid for his issues,” Mr. Byrne claimed.

Mr. Boulware was the team’s 1st-round select in 1997. “If you have been a rookie, he was going to let you know that you ended up a rookie. He would you permit you have it,” he explained. “Once you graduated from that, he welcomed you in.”

Mr. Siragusa was a whole-time starter and top voice as the Ravens’ protection steadily transformed into one particular of the most fearsome in NFL record. He and defensive tackle Sam Adams were being the immovable forces up entrance.

“‘Goose’ was quite a character, but he was one of our leaders on the 2000 Super Bowl staff,” former Ravens typical manager Ozzie Newsome reported. “He was likely one particular of the greatest operate-stoppers to participate in for our defense more than the yrs.”

His affect went further than the interior fight in which he specialised on the subject.

“Some of us were immature and just did not definitely know how to be pros, and possessing guys like ‘Goose’ sort of sit you down, obtaining anchors like that all about the locker place, was substantial to the results we experienced,” Mr. Boulware stated. “Siragusa, he was constantly lightening the ambiance, generating training camp, or just tricky instances, less difficult. He would giggle at himself, snicker at us.”

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In the course of the 2000 AFC championship game, he drove Oakland Raiders quarterback Loaded Gannon to the floor shoulder-to start with, a pivotal enjoy as the Ravens held a significant-flying offense to a few factors. Though Mr. Siragusa normally managed he had no intention of hurting Mr. Gannon, the strike went down as a prime illustration of the Ravens’ punishing fashion as they rampaged to the Super Bowl.

“We would not have received the Super Bowl without the need of him,” Mr. Billick stated flatly.

At the time he attained the biggest stage in sporting activities, Mr. Siragusa luxuriated in the spotlight. A reporter requested what career he would hate to have. “I would hate to be a plumber if my sewer backed up,” he reported.

As he moved on to act in the Spike Lee movie “25th Hour” or in “The Sopranos” and to look on Fox’s NFL broadcasts, teammates grinned at the character they all remembered. “People noticed him and they assumed, ‘That’s theater or he’s just seeking to act,’ but that was just him,” Mr. Boulware reported. “Camera or no digital camera, that is ‘Goose.’ That is why we beloved him so much.”

Mr. Siragusa’s antics obscured his tender aspect, Mr. Byrne explained. When a fireplace wiped out a teammate’s condominium a handful of days right before Xmas, Mr. Siragusa confirmed up with a vehicle whole of presents for the player’s displaced family members. Over the many years, he would alert the Ravens when a former teammate was down on his luck and necessary aid.

“Let’s just make sure he’s performing Okay,” he would say.

When vital players from the 2000 workforce collected recently at the Meyerhoff Symphony Corridor to movie scenes for an upcoming ESPN documentary, Mr. Siragusa informed the finest jokes but also took time to examine in with absolutely everyone, Mr. Byrne stated. He was hardly ever just the course clown.

The Ravens did not launch details on companies and stated in a statement “the Siragusa loved ones asks that everyone respect their privacy in the course of this complicated time.”

Mr. Siragusa mentioned he generally tried to retain his perception of humor and optimism, even in the confront of tragedy. On a 2012 physical appearance with radio host Howard Stern, he recalled the night time when he held his father, Peter, who was gasping for air as he experienced a deadly coronary heart attack.

Mr. Stern asked Mr. Siragusa, who was 21 when his father died, if he anxious about struggling a identical fate. “If I die tomorrow,” he responded, “I informed my wife, just put a smile on my deal with, set a minor Sinatra on.”

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