The Vikings announced the hiring of NFL veteran Tony Sparano as offensive line coach on Thursday.
The hire reunites Sparano with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer from their time that overlapped when they worked under Hall of Fame Coach Bill Parcels in Dallas (2003-06). Sparano remained in Dallas in 2007 as Cowboys Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line after Zimmer headed to Atlanta.
The 2016 season will be Sparano’s 32nd in coaching and 18th in the NFL.
Here are five things to know about Sparano:
1) He led a historic year-over-year turnaround in Miami
Sparano was hired as Dolphins Head Coach in 2008, a season after Miami went 1-15. Sparano became the first coach to lead a team to the NFL playoffs the year after a one-win season by leading the Dolphins to an 11-5 record. The 10-win improvement tied an NFL record set by Indianapolis (1998-99) and earned Sparano 2008 NFL Coach of the Year honors from the NFL Alumni and the Pro Football Weekly/Professional Football Writers of America.
2) The C in CT
Sparano was born and raised in Connecticut and was a four-year letter winner as a center at New Haven, where he began his coaching career on the offensive line. He later returned and went 41-14-1 as a head coach for five seasons (1994-98). The run included an appearance in the NCAA Division II Championship Game.
When Sparano was hired in Miami, he retained Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards as his linebackers coach. This will be the second time that they’ve worked on the same coaching staff, but the men also have worked for three of the same NFL franchises (Dallas, Washington and Cleveland) at different points in their careers.
This will be the seventh same NFL franchise (Dallas, Washington, Cleveland, Miami, Oakland, San Francisco and Minnesota) that Sparano and Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner have worked for in their careers but their first time working together.
4) Not the same name
Sparano was born Anthony Joseph Sparano III on Oct. 7, 1961. His Wikipedia bio page includes quite the disclaimer: “Not to be confused with Tony Soprano.”
The letters are quite similar, but Sparano majored in criminal justice at New Haven, a stark contrast from the fictional character in the retired HBO series.
5) Another young QB
Sparano was hired as Oakland’s Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line in 2013. He was promoted to head coach four games into the 2014 season and worked with rookie Derek Carr, who was selected four spots after the Vikings tabbed