Just before the start of Training Camp this year, the Minnesota Vikings’ organization was rocked by the death of offensive line coach Tony Sparano. Sparano, a long-time coach that was entering his second year with the Vikings after numerous other stops, died of heart failure at his home the week before camp was supposed to get underway.
Sunday would have been Coach Sparano’s 57th birthday, and the team was well aware of it. According to this story by Lindsey Young on the Vikings’ main website, the team wanted to go out on the field in Philadelphia and get a win for their late coach.
“We realized it was Tony’s birthday, and I had it in the back of my head that ‘I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do for Tony.’ He’s still missed,” said Vikings right tackle Rashod Hill. “He’s a friend and mentor to me. I’m glad we got a win for his birthday. I know he would have been proud of us today.”
. . .
“I saw this morning that it was his birthday, and I was just thinking about him as we were out there taking the victory, how pumped and excited he would have been on the sideline,” said right guard Mike Remmers. “I know he’s up there, looking down on us. I know he’s got a big grin on his face. It was really special to get a ‘W’ on his birthday.”
I had seen a couple of things on social media leading up to the start of today’s game about Sparano’s birthday being today, and I’m glad that the guys that he was closest to on the team, the offensive line, played a pretty vital role in making a victory happen today. Even with Riley Reiff going out early in the second quarter with a foot injury, the offensive line held up fairly well. That includes Hill, who shifted over to left tackle in Reiff’s absence, and rookie Brian O’Neill, who once again looked solid at the right tackle spot.
The Vikings wanted to go out on Sunday and get a victory for their late coach, and that’s exactly what they did. Hopefully, with any luck, this will be the start of a significant turnaround for the Vikings for the rest of a 2018 season in which they’re honoring Sparano with a sticker on their helmets.