July 4, 2022

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June 22, 2022, has change into the saddest and longest day in Ravens historical past.

Early Wednesday morning, the staff introduced that fourth-year outdoors linebacker Jaylon Ferguson died at age 26 after authorities discovered him unresponsive late Tuesday in a North Baltimore residence.

Early within the night, a staff spokesman confirmed that former Ravens defensive deal with Tony Siragusa died at age 55. The reason for loss of life was not instantly recognized.

The impression of the information was felt all through the group.

“Only a powerful, powerful day,” mentioned former Ravens outdoors linebacker Peter Boulware, a one-time teammate of Siragusa’s on the 2000 staff that gained the franchise’s first Tremendous Bowl title.

“We’ll get by way of it. My prayers are with this staff and this group. That’s who we’re.”

Just a few guys within the Ravens’ 26-year historical past exemplified toughness higher than the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Siragusa. On the identical time, he turned a voice for a staff seeking management.

Among the outdated Baltimore Colts followers in contrast Siragusa with late Corridor of Fame defensive deal with Artwork Donovan, however Donovan was the happy-go-lucky kind.

Siragusa might be loud, obnoxious, vicious, nice and humorous, however he was a terrific teammate. In the event you took an affordable shot at any of the Ravens, you needed to reply to Siragusa or his prime henchman, defensive finish Rob Burnett.

“To start with, my deepest condolences to his household,” Marvin Lewis, the architect and coordinator of the 2000 Ravens’ record-setting protection, mentioned in an announcement. “With Tony as a pal and teammate, you wanted no different. He performed and lived life to the fullest. He at all times jogged my memory to have enjoyable.”

That was Siragusa’s nature. He had a larger-than-life persona and he might gentle up any room. The locker room was his area. In the event you had been a reporter and your garments didn’t match, Siragusa was going to poke enjoyable.

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In the event you didn’t comb your hair, Siragusa was going to get you. In case your shirt was too tight, he’d ask why you had in your little brother’s T-shirt.

Nobody was spared the wrath or jokes. Not the media, not his teammates, not coach Brian Billick.

“If he stared at you, one thing was going to return out of his mouth,” Boulware mentioned. “The stare was lethal.”

I’d get into these exchanges with Siragusa, Burnett, defensive finish Michael McCrary and security Bennie Thompson possibly two or thrice every week. Siragusa was relentless in monitoring folks down. He as soon as known as me at residence on his radio present to inform me I used to be an fool. The subsequent day we’d combat after which the following day we’d be within the locker room goofing round once more.

Gamers again then preferred to banter, and so they revered you when you talked as a lot trash as they did. The wisecracks and outgoing persona led Siragusa to change into a TV commentator and later a sideline reporter for Fox’s NFL protection.

However right here’s a aspect of Siragusa few obtained to see.

“After I was a rookie and obtained to Baltimore, I used to be lucky sufficient to dwell on identical road with Tony so he’d take me residence and his spouse would prepare dinner me dinner,” former Ravens weakside linebacker Jamie Sharper mentioned. “Tony was a fun-filled man, and all people liked and seemed as much as him — the media and his teammates — however I obtained to see him as a great household man.”

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Sharper hadn’t seen Siragusa in practically three years, however they reconnected at a reunion for the 2000 Tremendous Bowl staff on Might 23. He mentioned that event allowed him to hug Siragusa and take an image with him one final time.

“Once we had been completed taking part in, Tony would open up his companies to us,” Sharper mentioned, combating again tears. “He didn’t care what shade you had been, the place you lived, what career you had been in, he handled everybody the identical. And sure, he made enjoyable of everybody.”

However Siragusa got here to Baltimore for a particular cause. On the finish of the 1996 season, then-Ravens normal supervisor Ozzie Newsome walked into the shed on the outdated advanced on the opposite aspect of Owings Mills and delivered a message.

“Mike,” Newsome mentioned, “in the course of the offseason, I’m going to convey me in a big-ass lineman to anchor the center of the protection. Write it down, and keep in mind I instructed you that.”

Enter Tony Siragusa.

The Ravens completed 6-9-1 that season, however they had been simply starting to construct a terrific protection with three younger promising linebackers in Boulware, Sharpe and Ray Lewis within the center.

That trio will go down in historical past as the most effective ever within the NFL. Lewis is the best linebacker of all time, however that line of defense ran the staff in 2000.

Discuss powerful guys?

McCrary and Burnett on the ends, and Siragusa and Sam Adams, the 2 sumo wrestlers, at deal with. Nobody ran on this protection, which gave up solely 165 factors in 16 video games that season.

Adams might disrupt operating performs and put stress on a quarterback with an explosive first step. Siragusa , in the meantime, might occupy two or three offensive linemen to maintain them off Lewis.

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Overlook Siragusa’s stats.

He had 159 whole tackles in his 5 seasons in Baltimore whereas Lewis had 768 throughout that span. Siragusa’s signature second got here when he drove Oakland quarterback Wealthy Gannon into the turf within the 2000 AFC Championship recreation.

Gannon suffered a shoulder harm and Siragusa was finally fined $10,000 for an unlawful hit, which he mentioned shortly after the Ravens’ victory was not completed on goal.

However a couple of month later, after I requested him if it was an intentional slam, he winked, laughed and replied: “What do you suppose?”

That was classic Siragusa. He performed arduous and he lived that method, too. He was a particularly athletic and cell massive man who might speak a variety of smack and again it up.

He “performed like a Raven,” a time period first utilized by former coach Ted Marchibroda. Few gamers have been as fierce and aggressive.

And no Raven has laughed as a lot.

“I can’t consider Goose is gone. He was greater than a teammate, he was my brother,” McCrary mentioned. “There was Goose, Burnett and me, we had been the D-line, however a lot extra. We had been at all times there for each other and he at all times managed to convey a smile to my face, irrespective of how dangerous issues could have appeared.

“There are such a lot of reminiscences. I’ll by no means consider him with out smiling, and I’ll miss him. Be careful heaven’s gatekeepers, Goose in on the best way and heaven won’t ever be the identical.”

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