Tony Siragusa Remembered As 'Hall of Fame Character' and 'Larger Than Life Personality'
The memorable impression Tony Siragusa made with his bruising play and big personality was reflected by the outpouring of tributes from the NFL community to the gregarious former Ravens star, who died at age 55 yesterday.
Here's a sample of what was written about "Goose" online and on social media:
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "On the field, he was a key cog on one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. Siragusa and fellow defensive tackle Sam Adams formed a near 700-pound wall, completely nullifying opposing running games and keeping blockers away from star middle linebacker Ray Lewis who roamed free and made plays sideline-to-sideline. In the locker room, the gregarious Siragusa was one of the Ravens' foremost leaders. On a team with big personalities like Shannon Sharpe, Lewis and Rod Woodson, nobody spoke louder than Siragusa.
"He had a very good career and was a run-stopping force in both Indianapolis and Baltimore. However, more than anything, he'll be remembered for just being a larger than life type of personality. He was one of the league's biggest and loudest characters. That was clear in his post-playing career as a broadcaster, too. The Ravens recently held a celebration for the 2000 team as part of a future ESPN '30 for 30' production and Siragusa brought down the house. He was just a gregarious guy with great stories."
ESPN's Jamison Hensley: "Siragusa might not have made any Pro Bowls or the Ravens' Ring of Honor during or after his 12 seasons in the NFL, but teammates attest to his irrepressible and irreplaceable legacy: Siragusa was a Hall of Fame character. As much as Siragusa was overlooked for his run-stuffing prowess on the field, he made sure everyone saw and heard him in the locker room and in front of cameras. And, as much as the Ravens organization mourns his death, teammates know Siragusa would want them to remember him with a smile."
The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker: "Mr. Siragusa said he always tried to retain his sense of humor and optimism, even in the face of tragedy. On a 2012 appearance with radio host Howard Stern, he recalled the night when he held his father, Peter, who was gasping for air as he suffered a fatal heart attack.
Mr. Stern asked Mr. Siragusa, who was 21 when his father died, if he worried about suffering a similar fate. 'If I die tomorrow,' he responded, 'I told my wife, just put a smile on my face, put a little Sinatra on.'"
Russell Street Report's Tony Lombardi: "Tony for Ravens fans was much like Art Donovan was to fans of the Baltimore Colts. He was an instigator, a practical joker, an outspoken leader — a gentle giant. He endeared himself to Baltimore because his persona was cut from the same cloth as ours — a lunch pail kind of guy who worked hard, played hard and whose focus was upon the good of the team. He was willing to do the dirty work even if such duties didn't shine a light on his efforts."
Russell Street Report's Darin McCann: "As the Ravens, and their fans, were struggling to find their identity in those early years, a brash New Jersey guy came to town with a swagger in his step, a saucy range of expletives spitting out of his mouth and a skill level that helped form one of the greatest defenses this world has ever seen. Ironically enough, he came to Baltimore from of all places, Indianapolis. Yes, a former Colt helped bring Baltimore football back to life. … Rest in peace, 98. You helped build something special in Baltimore. You sure gave us a hell of a ride while you were here."
Jaylon Ferguson Was 'Class Act' With a 'Big Heart'
Yesterday was truly a day of mourning for the Ravens. On the same day that Siragusa died, the team announced the passing of outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson at age 26.
Ferguson, who Head Coach John Harbaugh described as a "good-hearted, gentle person," was preparing for his fourth season.
"Just a week ago at the Ravens' mandatory minicamp, Ferguson had teammates calling his name from the sideline after he got around the corner and was in position to sack Lamar Jackson," Zrebiec wrote. "A few plays later, Ferguson tweaked his ankle. He hurried to the sideline, had his ankle retaped and immediately made a move to return to the field. His progress was stopped by a member of the team's athletic training staff who told the outside linebacker there were only a few more plays left in the practice period and there was no need to rush back.
"Ferguson lost a considerable amount of weight and had remade his body with visions of being faster and more explosive. The early returns were good."
In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Ruston, (La.) Mayor Ronny Walker called Ferguson a "class act," a "strong role model" for the area's youth and "a heck of a pass rusher, too."
When the Ravens drafted Ferguson out of Louisiana Tech in the third round in 2019, he was in Ruston, La., helping victims of a tornado the previous day that claimed two lives and left most homes without power.
"We lost a person with a big heart and a desire to help the community, no matter where he is," Walker said. "He was not from Ruston, but yet he adopted the city. And during a time of need, he stepped up to the plate, just like several former players did who came back. So it's one thing to say, 'I'm part of the community and I want to help,' but it's another thing when you're going out and actually doing the work."