OWINGS MILLS, Maryland — In the spring of 2001, reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens had their first mini-camp with one notable absence.

- Advertisement -

Tony “Goose” Siragus was not in the meeting room behind the defensive line. But teammates heard that he planned to make a big splash. Then, a loud noise was heard throughout the command post. Everyone ran out to the training field.

- Advertisement -

Siragusa arrived by helicopter, which landed right on the 50-yard line. A berserk 350-pound guard shot out and swung at his teammates, pointing at his flexed right bicep.

- Advertisement -

“It was a classic,” said former Ravens guard Sam Adams. “As well as [coach Brian] Billick just sat with his mouth open and thought, “Why me?”

Syragusa, who died Wednesday at age 55, may not have won a single Pro Bowl or Ravens Ring of Honor during or after his 12 NFL seasons, but teammates testify to his irrepressible and irreplaceable legacy: Syragusa was a Hall. character of glory.

Even though Siragusa was underestimated for his prowess at pitching the ball, he made sure everyone could see and hear him in the dressing room and in front of the cameras. And while the Crows organization mourns his death, his teammates know that Siragusa would like them to remember him with a smile.

“He was expecting a roast to start right now at his funeral,” said former Ravens kicker Matt Stover, who was a Syragusa teammate for five seasons. – He would love it.

No forbidden humor

Stover was one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL. He was also one of the thickest-skinned, thanks in part to Syragusa.

The Ravens were sending Stover for the winning shot and he could hear Siragusa scolding him, yelling at him and even threatening him from behind the touchline.

“Listen, you [expletive]if you miss this shot, don’t go back to this sideline because I will hurt you,” Siragusa said.

Kevin Byrne, longtime head of public relations for the Ravens, asked Stover if the thrash talk helped. “No, but it makes me smile,” Stover replied.

Stover said he liked the extra pressure that Syragusa put in. At one training session, Stover asked Syragusa to give it his all.

So, Goose pulled off his pants and began to tease him.

Syragusa’s uncompromising sense of humor helped him with more than just field goals. In that 2000 championship season, the Ravens did not score a single touchdown for the entirety of October. It could have been a contentious situation, with the offense failing to reach the end zone in five straight games and the defense throwing just four touchdowns in that period.

“Without him, we wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl because the locker room could flip over so easily,” Stover said. “He kept it free. He will break the ice in the room. This guy was a huge force in the dressing room.”

Everyone was a target

Entering the NFL as a non-draft rookie, Siragusa prided himself on having a tough path in the NFL, so big-name rookies rubbed him the wrong way. He told them not to park their expensive car next to his because he would madly open the door and leave dents on them.

Siragusa, who hated weighing in, also made beginners fill out the chart above the scales for him.

“Bet whatever you want,” Siragusa said in the first season of HBO’s Hard Knocks. “Put 215 [pounds]. Let’s scare them a little. Lost 900 pounds – today!

Siragusa fell in love with his teammates because he joked around with everyone, including the coaches. When then-defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis lost the Bills head coaching job, Siragusa asked him, “What are you going to do with all the snowplows you buy?”

Nobody was safe from Syragusa. In 2001, he brought paint guns to training camp to harass the newcomers. After Billick threatened Syragusa and asked him to stop, the vicious linebacker fired the ball at the watchman who was standing on the stairs trying to clean up a paint stain on the second floor wall.

As the hotel worker angrily descended the stairs, Siragusa pulled a wad of banknotes from his wallet and handed it over. The Guardian smiled.

“He was the soul of every room he walked into,” said former Ravens linebacker Peter Bulwer.

Not okay with it

Syragusa was not penalized when he pinned Rich Gannon to the turf, forcing the Raiders quarterback out of the 2000 AFC Championship game. However, he received a $15,000 fine that he blamed on television analyst Phil Simms.

During the game’s televised broadcast, Simms emphasized that Syragusa should have been flagged because, according to Simms, he was trying to harm Gannon, a claim that Syragusa believed prompted the league to punish him.

Two weeks later, Siragusa approached Simms at a Super Bowl production meeting and told him that he owed him $15,000. When Simms said he wouldn’t be intimidated, Siragusa asked Simms about the progress of his home in New Jersey.

“How do you know that?” Simms asked.

Siragusa of New Jersey responded, “Let me tell you this: when you’re $15,000 short of bushes, you’ll know where they are.”

Best Teammate

In October 2000, Siragusa was wheeled off the field in a game against the Tennessee Titans and was taken to a local hospital with a spinal cord contusion.

“We lifted him up and put him on a stretcher,” Adams said. “I have tears in my eyes as they take him off the field. Then I see him come back into the game and I think to myself, “What the hell is going on?”

Siragusa was advised not to return to the game, but chose to ignore the advice because he did not want to let his teammates down. This commitment to his fellow players did not attract as much attention as his witty barbs.

On Christmas Eve 1999, an accidental fire burned down the apartment of Ravens defender Fernando Smith. Siragusa showed up with $10,000 worth of clothes and a car filled with toys for the kids.

“He cared about his teammates,” Byrne said. “He had a generous heart.”

When Siragusa entered the NFL, he spent his entire $1,000 signing bonus from the Indianapolis Colts in a bar. When he announced his retirement 12 years later, he did so at a watering hole during his weekly radio show.

“I had a lot of fun, a lot of memories,” Siragusa said in January 2002. “I feel like I have to wake up and pinch myself because my career has been so much fun. If someone has as much fun in a year as I did in 12, they will be very happy.”