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Tony Sparano
Offensive Line Coach

BIOGRAPHY

Tony Sparano returned to coach the Vikings offensive line in 2017, has a wealth of coaching experience and has worked with Mike Zimmer in the past. The pair share a passion for teaching the game and getting the most out of their players. Zimmer shared a sideline with Sparano while both coached in Dallas under Bill Parcells from 2003-06.

Sparano coached the Vikings linemen in 2016 when the unit was decimated by injuries and a constantly changing lineup. The team did not have a lineman play in all 16 games and was forced to use 8 different starting combinations during the season. The Vikings line coaches prepared C Nick Easton to make his 1st career starts as he moved into the lineup for the final 5 games. Jeremiah Sirles, who had 1 career start in 2 games played entering 2016, started 10 games during the year- 9 at RT and 1 at LG. Veteran interior lineman Joe Berger started 14 games at 3 positions- 11 at C, 2 at RG and 1 at LG. The loss of star RB Adrian Peterson hurt the Vikings ground game as the former MVP played in only 3 games during the season. The Vikings line protected QB Sam Bradford as he set the NFL record for completion % in a season at 71.6%, set the Vikings record for completions with 395 and the team record for INT % at 0.9% while posting a career-best 99.3 passer rating, the 4th-best in team history.

Tony Sparano returned to coach the Vikings offensive line in 2017, has a wealth of coaching experience and has worked with Mike Zimmer in the past. The pair share a passion for teaching the game and getting the most out of their players. Zimmer shared a sideline with Sparano while both coached in Dallas under Bill Parcells from 2003-06.

Sparano coached the Vikings linemen in 2016 when the unit was decimated by injuries and a constantly changing lineup. The team did not have a lineman play in all 16 games and was forced to use 8 different starting combinations during the season. The Vikings line coaches prepared C Nick Easton to make his 1st career starts as he moved into the lineup for the final 5 games. Jeremiah Sirles, who had 1 career start in 2 games played entering 2016, started 10 games during the year- 9 at RT and 1 at LG. Veteran interior lineman Joe Berger started 14 games at 3 positions- 11 at C, 2 at RG and 1 at LG. The loss of star RB Adrian Peterson hurt the Vikings ground game as the former MVP played in only 3 games during the season. The Vikings line protected QB Sam Bradford as he set the NFL record for completion % in a season at 71.6%, set the Vikings record for completions with 395 and the team record for INT % at 0.9% while posting a career-best 99.3 passer rating, the 4th-best in team history. 

Prior to the Vikings, Sparano coached TEs in San Francisco. The 49ers offense went through a myriad of changes throughout the preseason and regular season, but the TE group was a steady source of productivity. Starter Vance McDonald tied for 3rd on the club in receptions and joined fellow TE Garrett Celek to each notch 3 receiving TDs, also good for a tie for 3rd on the team.

Under Sparano’s direction for the final 12 games of the 2014 season, the Raiders finished with a 3-9 record, including wins in 3 of their last 6 contests. Offensively for the Raiders, rookie QB Derek Carr became the only quarterback from the 2014 draft class to start each of his team’s 16 regular season games. Among all rookie QBs in NFL history, Carr ranked 2nd in completions (348), tied for 5th in passing touchdowns (21) and 10th in passing yards (3,270). In addition, he threw just 12 interceptions, tied for 4th-fewest among all passers with at least 500 attempts in 2014. Defensively, Sparano inherited a team that was ranked 17th in opponent’s yards per carry average (4.31), and over the 12 weeks following his promotion, the Raiders ranked 8th (3.83). The team also finished the season ranked 22nd in rushing yards per game allowed (119.4), despite ranking 31st (158.3) before Sparano took over.

In 2013, Sparano served as Oakland’s assistant head coach/OL coach and tutored a shuffling unit that paved the way for 4 different players to rush for 100 yards in a game, becoming the first team to achieve the feat since 1978 (KC - five players). Sparano elevated the run game to new heights in his first season, raising the rushing yards per game average from 88.8 (2012) to 125.0 (2013).

Prior to joining the Raiders, Sparano served as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets in 2012, following a 4-year stint as head coach of the Miami Dolphins (2008-11).

From 2008-10, Miami posted a 15-9 record on the road, which was tied for the 3rd-best road record over that span. Under Sparano’s guidance, WRs Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess combined for the most receptions by any duo in Dolphins history, while TE Anthony Fasano set career highs in receptions, yardage and touchdowns. In his 1st season as Miami’s head coach, Sparano guided the Dolphins to an 11-5 record and the AFC East title, following a dismal 1-15 season in 2007. His 10-game improvement earned him 2008 NFL Coach of the Year honors by the NFL Alumni and the Pro Football Weekly/Professional Football Writers of America and is tied for the largest single-season improvement in wins in NFL history (Indianapolis Colts - 1998-99).

Sparano was a member of the Cowboys coaching staff from 2003-07, where he held several offensive positions, including tight ends coach (2003-04), offensive line/run-game coordinator (2005) and assistant head coach/offensive line (2006-07). When Sparano was the primary play-caller in 2006, the Cowboys finished 5th in total offense (360.8 yards per game). In addition, the unit’s 425 points scored was the 4th-highest total in the NFL. In 2004, Sparano helped develop TE Jason Witten into one of the league’s best TEs. Witten hauled in 87 receptions for 980 yards and 6 touchdowns in his 2nd season to become the first Dallas tight end to make the Pro Bowl since 1995.

Prior to 2 1-year stops as a TEs coach with Marty Schottenheimer’s Redskins in 2001 and Tom Coughlin’s Jaguars in 2002, Sparano helped launch the Cleveland Browns. In 1999, Cleveland’s 1st year back in the NFL, Sparano served as an offensive quality control coach. He spent the 2000 season in charge of the Browns’ offensive line.

Sparano made the jump to the NFL after 5 years as head coach of his alma mater, Division II New Haven (1994-98),  where he compiled a 41-14 record (.745) and 4 winning campaigns. He guided the Chargers to a pair of NCAA playoff berths. His 1st coaching position was at his alma mater from 1984-87 on the offensive line before a 6-year stint with Boston University coaching the Terriers’ OL from 1988-89, before serving as offensive coordinator from 1990-93. 

In 1997, his 12-2 New Haven club led the country in scoring offense (42.8 points per game) and ranked 2nd in scoring defense (11.6) before losing in the National Championship. In his final season at Boston University, his 12-1 program secured the Yankee Conference and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA playoffs.

A native of West Haven, CT, Sparano was the starting center for the University of New Haven, playing for the club from 1978-81, helping the squad to its first undefeated season in school history in 1979. Sparano is a member of the New Haven Football Hall of Fame.

Sparano and his wife, Jeanette, have 3 children - sons Tony and Andrew, who each played football at Albany, and daughter, Ryan Leigh. Sparano and his wife also have 2 grandchildren, Tony and Gabriella.