Tony Siragusa, once one of the biggest players and personalities in the NFL, died Wednesday morning at the age of 55.
The cause of his death has not yet been publicly disclosed.
“Rene and I are stunned and heartbroken to learn of the sudden death of Tony Siragusa,” said Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.
“He was a special person and clearly one of the most popular players in the history of the Ravens. Tony’s incredible personality has had a huge impact on our organization and the entire Baltimore community.
“Our deepest prayers and condolences to Cathy, their three children and the rest of the Siragusa family.”
After collegiate play with Pittsburgh, Siragusa entered the NFL in 1990 as an undrafted free agent with the Indianapolis Colts. After seven seasons with Circle City, he signed with Baltimore in 1997, which took his career and prominence to new heights.
A 6-3, 330-pound forward who has played in 177 NFL games (including the playoffs), the man known as “The Goose” will be part of an intimidating line that will cement one of the best defenses in league history.
Teaming up with fellow body-width Sam Adams, Siragusa closed the rush lane and tied blocks in front of legendary middle linebacker Ray Lewis for the Ravens in 2000 in what is arguably the most dominant defense the league has seen in the past four decades. This team scored 10.3 points per game—the fewest since the regular season expanded to 16 games in 1978—with four shutouts before crushing the Giants 34–7 in Super Bowl 35, a game in which the only score New York was reached thanks to a return kickoff.
Syragusa returned for another season in 2001, his sarcastic and effervescent personality documented in HBO’s first episode of Hard Knocks.
He joined the media after his retirement, working as an outside reporter for Fox during the 2015 season. He also dabbled in acting and got a small role in The Sopranos.
In a statement, Lewis said: “It’s tough. I love Goose like a brother. From the first day we met, I knew that life was different. I knew he was the one who would change my life forever. – a kind of person who made you feel important and special. You will never replace such a man.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tony Siragusa dies at age 55 after 12 NFL seasons with Ravens, Colts