Lions' Pasqualoni sickened by death of longtime colleague Sparano

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Paul Pasqualoni took his first NFL coaching job in 2005, joining Bill Parcells' staff in Dallas to work with the team’s tight ends. Because of the relationship between the positions, Pasqualoni would frequently collaborate with the team’s offensive line coach, Tony Sparano.

Sparano, who had been serving in the same role for the Minnesota Vikings, unexpectedly passed away on Sunday from natural causes stemming from arteriosclerotic heart disease. He was 56.

Tony Sparano was a head coach for the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. He spent the past two seasons as the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line coach.

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“When it happens, you just have this overwhelmingly sick feeling,” Pasqualoni said. “Just when you get a bad feeling in your stomach. Just a sad deal.”

Pasqualoni spent two more seasons in Dallas, but worked with the team’s linebackers during those years. In 2008, Sparano became head coach in Miami and Pasqualoni joined him the staff as defensive coordinator.

“He was a terrific family guy,” Pasqualoni said. ”My wife, my kids just loved Tony, loved (his wife) Jeanette, loved their kids. Just a great family, very caring.”