“Jersey Guy” Tony Siragusa, Former NFL Standout and New Jersey Wrestling State Champion, Dies at 55
With a boisterous personality and a blue-collar play style, Tony Siragusa was a "Jersey Guy" through and through. Sadly, the big man with a larger-than-life persona has left us too soon.
Siragusa, known affectionately as "Goose" during his 12-year career in the National Football League, died Wednesday at the age of 55, according to multiple reports. A native of Union County where he was a football and wrestling star at David Brearley High School, Siragusa was also reported to own a home in the Ortley Beach section of Toms River where he was currently staying at the time of his death. A cause of death was not released, but Pro Football Network reported that he died in his sleep.
Siragusa also had Jersey Shore ties as one of the owners of the former Tiffany's Restaurant, which was located on Route 37 in Toms River at the current site of Margaritas. There were also locations in North Jersey and Florida. Curiously, the restaurant chain was sued by luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. because of their name, so the chain shortened the name to Tiff's.
At 6-foot-3 and 340 pounds, Siragusa was a mountain of a man with a personality to match. He was a frequent interview subject as a player, a favorite of fans and teammates, and also enjoyed a 12-year career as an NFL sideline reporter for FOX from 2003 through 2015. He had a role on The Sopranos as Soprano family associate Frankie Cortese and later hosted Man Caves on the DIY Network and a documentary called Megamachines on the Discovery Channel.
"Goose" was born and raised in Kenilworth and at Brearley High School was a star football player and wrestler. He won the NJSIAA heavyweight state championship in 1985 and was a dominant wrestler throughout his high school career, but it was on the gridiron where he would truly make his mark. He played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh where he started at defensive tackle as a sophomore and as a junior. However, he tore the ACL in his left knee during practice his senior year and missed the entire season, which adversely affected his draft stock. He was considered a first-round prospect before the injury but went undrafted in the 1990 NFL draft.
The Colts signed Siragusa as an undrafted free agent in 1990 and not only did he make the team, he spent the next seven seasons in Indianapolis where he helped the Colts reach the 1995 AFC Championship Game. He reached free agency in 1997 and signed with the Baltimore Ravens. In 2000, Siragusa was an integral piece of a historic Ravens' defense that allowed the fewest total points in NFL history. The Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV with a 34-7 victory over the New York Giants and remain in the conversation as one of the greatest defensive teams in NFL history. Siragusa retired following the 2001 season and concluded his career with 562 tackles, 22 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, and 28 pass deflections in 170 games played.
Siragusa is survived by his wife Kathy and their three children, Samantha, Ava, and Anthony Jr. Anthony starred as a football player at the Delbarton School in Morristown and played collegiately at Villanova.
Many of his former teammates and coaches expressed their sympathies on social media once the news of Siragusa's passing began to circulate.
"This is a tough one," said Ravens Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis. "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."
“There was no one like Goose – a warrior on the field and a team unifier with a giving, generous heart who helped teammates and the community more than most people know," said Brian Billick, who coached the Ravens to the 2000 Super Bowl title. "We would not have won the Super Bowl without him. This is such stunning, sad news, and our hearts go out to Kathy and the Siragusa family.”
"Tony was one of the best people I ever met," said Rex Ryan, a current ESPN NFL analyst and former New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach who was the Raven's defensive coordinator during Siragusa's tenure there. "It was impossible to have a bad day around him."
“Renee and I are stunned and heartbroken to learn about the sudden passing of Tony Siragusa," said Ravens' owners Steve and Renne Bisciotti 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. On the football field, Goose was a difference-maker who contributed immeasurably to the success of many great Ravens defenses, including the record-setting 2000 Super Bowl team.
“Our deepest prayers and sympathies go out to Kathy, their three children and the rest of the Siragusa family.
“This is a tremendously sad day for the Baltimore Ravens. We appreciate everyone who has expressed an outpouring of support for our players, coaches and staff.”