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 released.
“Renee and I are stunned and heartbroken to learn about the sudden passing of Tony Siragusa,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said in a statement.
“He was a special person and clearly one of the most popular players in Ravens history. Tony’s larger-than-life personality made an enormous impact on our organization and throughout the Baltimore community.
“Our deepest prayers and sympathies go out to Kathy, their three children and the rest of the Siragusa family.”
After playing collegiately at Pittsburgh, Siragusa entered the NFL in 1990 as an undrafted free agent for the Indianapolis Colts. After seven seasons manning the defensive line in Circle City, he signed with the Ravens in 1997 – a move that elevated his career and visibility to a new level.
A 6-3, 330-pound run stuffer who played in 177 NFL games (including playoffs), the man known as “Goose” would become part of a daunting front line that would anchor one of the best defenses in league history.
Teaming with fellow interior lineman Sam Adams, Siragusa shut down run lanes and tied up blocks in front of legendary middle linebacker Ray Lewis for the 2000 Ravens, arguably the most dominant defense the league has seen in the past four decades. That Baltimore squad allowed just 10.3 points per game-the fewest since the regular season expanded to 16 games in 1978-while posting four shutouts before mauling the Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl 35, a game when New York’s only score occurred via a kickoff return.
Siragusa returned for one more season in 2001, his sarcastic and effervescent personality documented that year in the inaugural edition of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”
He joined the media following his retirement, serving as a Fox sideline reporter through the 2015 season. He also dabbled in acting and landed a small role in “The Sopranos.”
Said Lewis in a statement: “This is a tough one. I love Goose like a brother. From the first day we met, I knew that life was different. I knew he was someone who would change my life forever. He was a one-of-a-kind person who made you feel important and special. You can never replace a man like that. “
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tony Siragusa dies at age 55, played 12 NFL seasons for Ravens, Colts