The Goose is Dead

FORMER PITT FOOTBALL STANDOUT TONY SIRAGUSA PASSES AWAY

6/22/2022 4:00:00 PM

PITTSBURGH—Tony Siragusa, a standout Pitt defensive lineman from 1985-89 who went on to play 12 NFL seasons, has passed away at the age of 55.

Nicknamed “the Goose,” Siragusa arrived at Pitt as a freshman in 1985 following a decorated career at New Jersey’s David Brearley High School, where he was an all-state football player and state champion wrestler.

He burst into prominence as a sophomore in 1986, compiling 78 tackles and seven sacks. In a victory over Rutgers that season, he racked up 17 tackles, including four for losses. Hindered by injuries the next two years, Siragusa bounced back as a senior in 1989 with 60 stops, 13 TFLs and 5.5 sacks. His performance helped the Panthers to an 8-3-1 record, including a 31-28 win over Texas A&M in the Sun Bowl.

Known for his passionate play on the field and colorful quips off it, Siragusa remains one of the most popular Panthers of his era. Never one to shy away from a needle-moving quote, Siragusa once said, “If I wanted to learn a school song, I would’ve gone to Notre Dame or Penn State. I want to kill people on the football field. That’s why I came to Pitt.”

Siragusa is, perhaps, Pitt football’s greatest NFL free-agent success story. He wasn’t picked in the 12-round 1990 NFL Draft and ultimately signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Siragusa ended up playing 12 NFL seasons—seven with the Colts and his final five with the Baltimore Ravens—winning a Super Bowl in Baltimore in 2000.

Siragusa retired from the NFL following the 2001 season. He would then embark on a long and varied media career that included work as an analyst for FOX’s NFL coverage, a recurring role on HBO’s iconic series The Sopranos and hosting shows on the Discovery Channel and DIY Network.

Narduzzi on Siragusa

“Tony truly was bigger than life, on and off the field,” said Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi. “He played the game passionately and relentlessly. Despite not being drafted, he thrived in the NFL for 12 years. His post-football life took him so many places but he never forgot Pitt. We could always count on him to send the best recorded pep talks to our guys before our biggest games. ‘The Goose’ leaves a great legacy and he will be sorely missed. Our sympathies to his family, many loved ones and former teammates.”

https://pittsburghpanthers.com/news/2022/6/22/former-pitt-football-standout-tony-siragusa-passes-away.aspx

51 thoughts on “The Goose is Dead

  1. Can you imagine being a HS wrestler and going up against the Goose? For that matter, being a guard or center in HS or college…

    Pitt has truly had some amazing defensive linemen.

    May the Goose RIP.

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great Pitt man. One of the best quotes ever this side of Beano …

    “If I wanted to sing a fight song I would have gone to ND or Penn State … I wanted to kill people. That’s why I went to Pitt” … paraphrased … don’t hate lol

    His unpreparedness on NFL telecast were legendary. Created so many great off the cuff moments. Unpropfessionalism at its finest. Screw the status quo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was friends with a girl who lived in Holland Hall. Her floormate was dating Stepnoski. There were several times that the “Goose” was hanging out. Without a doubt, he was one of the funniest human beings I have ever met. Not just “ha-ha” funny. I am talking he was funny to the point of your face and stomach aching and even a little pee sneaking out kinda funny. My experiences with him were that he was a solid guy…and we all know he was a great Pitt player…exactly the kind of college player you’d want to build a team with. RIP big guy.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ridiculous that he wasn’t drafted in 12 rounds. A real Pitt man if ever there was one…
    Glad he got a ring, even if it was as a Raven.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Unless my memory fails me, Goose cleared the path for Troy Polamalu to have hair flowing from the back of a helmet. What a treat to watch on the field and watch on the tube.

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  6. Crazy how much bigger Siragusa got in the pros after he left Pitt. He looked about 280 in 1989 and then would weigh around 340 in the NFL and not lose any of his quickness.

    For us fans, we were denied by the Football Gods the chance to have Goose, Spindler and Grossman for two seasons wreaking havoc, but the three barely played together in their time at Pitt. Heck, Spindler missed half of the 1988 season so not even Spindler/Grossman for two seasons.

    Cas Myslinski did a lot of great things for the football program, but getting rid of the grass after the 1969 season was not one of them. The number of knee injuries that would happen on the Pitt Stadium turf in the late 80s and into the 90s was staggering.

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  7. Threw those teams out there to see who Goose played with as my brain has a little more white matter than it did in the good ole days….For you with better memories: was Goose on the same DL as Mark Spindler, Keith Hamilton, Sean Gilbert and Burt Grossman…??? If he was -what a heck of a DL.

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  8. Mike Preston: On saddest day in Ravens history, remember what Tony Siragusa brought to Baltimore |

    Ravens celebrate in the locker room with the divisional trophy after winning the AFC Championship Game against the Oakland Raiders. Pictured with the trophy are, from left, #96 Adalius Thomas TOP REAR. Michael McCrary (Left bottom) Tony Siragusa, Lional Dalton and Rob Burnett. (LLOYD FOX / )

    June 22, 2022, has become the saddest and longest day in Ravens history.

    Early Wednesday morning, the team announced that fourth-year outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson died at age 26 after authorities found him unresponsive late Tuesday in a North Baltimore home.

    Early in the evening, a team spokesman confirmed that former Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa died at age 55. The cause of death was not immediately known.

    The impact of the news was felt throughout the organization.

    Ad ChoicesHome to Big Dreamers
    “Just a tough, tough day,” said former Ravens outside linebacker Peter Boulware, a one-time teammate of Siragusa’s on the 2000 team that won the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.

    “We’ll get through it. My prayers are with this team and this organization. That’s who we are.”

    Only a few guys in the Ravens’ 26-year history exemplified toughness better than the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Siragusa. At the same time, he became a voice for a team in search of leadership.

    Some of the old Baltimore Colts fans compared Siragusa with late Hall of Fame defensive tackle Art Donovan, but Donovan was the happy-go-lucky type.

    Siragusa could be loud, obnoxious, vicious, pleasant and humorous, but he was a great teammate. If you took a cheap shot at any of the Ravens, you had to answer to Siragusa or his top henchman, defensive end Rob Burnett.

    “First of all, my deepest condolences to his family,” Marvin Lewis, the architect and coordinator of the 2000 Ravens’ record-setting defense, said in a statement. “With Tony as a friend and teammate, you needed no other. He played and lived life to the fullest. He always reminded me to have fun.”

    The Ravens’ Tony Siragusa does his “goose dance” after forcing a fumble during a game against the Browns. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun)
    That was Siragusa’s nature. He had a larger-than-life personality and he could light up any room. The locker room was his domain. If you were a reporter and your clothes didn’t match, Siragusa was going to poke fun.

    If you didn’t comb your hair, Siragusa was going to get you. If your shirt was too tight, he’d ask why you had on your little brother’s T-shirt.

    No one was spared the wrath or jokes. Not the media, not his teammates, not coach Brian Billick.

    “If he stared at you, something was going to come out of his mouth,” Boulware said. “The stare was deadly.”

    I’d get into these exchanges with Siragusa, Burnett, defensive end Michael McCrary and safety Bennie Thompson maybe two or three times a week. Siragusa was relentless in tracking people down. He once called me at home on his radio show to tell me I was an idiot. The next day we’d fight and then the next day we’d be in the locker room goofing around again.

    Players back then liked to banter, and they respected you if you talked as much trash as they did. The wisecracks and outgoing personality led Siragusa to become a TV commentator and later a sideline reporter for Fox’s NFL coverage.

    But here’s a side of Siragusa few got to see.

    “When I was a rookie and got to Baltimore, I was fortunate enough to live on same street with Tony so he’d take me home and his wife would cook me dinner,” former Ravens weakside linebacker Jamie Sharper said. “Tony was a fun-filled guy, and everybody loved and looked up to him — the media and his teammates — but I got to see him as a good family man.”

    Sharper hadn’t seen Siragusa in nearly three years, but they reconnected at a reunion for the 2000 Super Bowl team on May 23. He said that occasion allowed him to hug Siragusa and take a picture with him one last time.

    “When we were done playing, Tony would open up his businesses to us,” Sharper said, fighting back tears. “He didn’t care what color you were, where you lived, what profession you were in, he treated everyone the same. And yes, he made fun of everyone.”

    Tony Siragusa, left, and Michael McCrary share a laugh during the halftime show honoring the 2000 Ravens’ Super Bowl championship team. (Brian Krista, b)
    But Siragusa came to Baltimore for a specific reason. At the end of the 1996 season, then-Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome walked into the shed at the old complex on the other side of Owings Mills and delivered a message.

    “Mike,” Newsome said, “during the offseason, I am going to bring me in a big-ass lineman to anchor the middle of the defense. Write it down, and remember I told you that.”

    Enter Tony Siragusa.

    The Ravens finished 6-9-1 that season, but they were just beginning to build a great defense with three young promising linebackers in Boulware, Sharpe and Ray Lewis in the middle.

    That trio will go down in history as one of the best ever in the NFL. Lewis is the greatest linebacker of all time, but that defensive line ran the team in 2000.

    Talk about tough guys?

    McCrary and Burnett on the ends, and Siragusa and Sam Adams, the two sumo wrestlers, at tackle. No one ran on this defense, which gave up only 165 points in 16 games that season.

    Adams could disrupt running plays and put pressure on a quarterback with an explosive first step. Siragusa , meanwhile, could occupy two or three offensive linemen to keep them off Lewis.

    Forget Siragusa’s stats.

    He had 159 total tackles in his five seasons in Baltimore while Lewis had 768 during that span. Siragusa’s signature moment came when he drove Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon into the turf in the 2000 AFC Championship game.

    Ravens defensive lineman Tony Siragusa holds his daughter, Samantha Rose, on his shoulders after Baltimore beat the New York Giants, 34-7, in Super Bowl XXXV. (Sun staff by Karl Merton Ferron)
    Gannon suffered a shoulder injury and Siragusa was eventually fined $10,000 for an illegal hit, which he said shortly after the Ravens’ victory was not done on purpose.

    But about a month later, when I asked him if it was an intentional slam, he winked, laughed and replied: “What do you think?”

    That was vintage Siragusa. He played hard and he lived that way, too. He was an extremely athletic and mobile big guy who could talk a lot of smack and back it up.

    He “played like a Raven,” a term first used by former coach Ted Marchibroda. Few players have been as fierce and competitive.

    And no Raven has laughed as much.

    “I can’t believe Goose is gone. He was more than a teammate, he was my brother,” McCrary said. “There was Goose, Burnett and me, we were the D-line, but so much more. We were always there for one another and he always managed to bring a smile to my face, no matter how bad things may have seemed.

    “There are so many memories. I will never think of him without smiling, and I will miss him. Watch out heaven’s gatekeepers, Goose in on the way and heaven will never be the same.”

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Hamilton and Gilbert were freshmen or sophomores when Goose graduated in 1989.

    Gunn, Sims and Smith were also drafted.

    Grossman and Gilbert were the only first rounders.

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      1. I would see grossman and the goose together. Gilbert, Hamilton and big daddy hung together. Spindlers parents were nice people.

        There were at least seven D lineman drafted between 1988 and 1992. Two first rounders.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Plus, talented defensive linemen at that time like Richard “Robo Cop” Allen, Jon “Sack Man” Baker, and Nelson Walker all tore their knees up on Pitt’s turf. Walker did it in 1990 sacking a BC quarterback.

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  10. Most of us older alums are at the grandkids stage rather than our own kids. A dire warning to all!

    Here in Baltimore, the Ravens lost a 26 year old linebacker Ferguson. Autopsy is today and very likely he died from Fentanyl OD.
    My 20 year neighbor, a retired city cop told me they are putting it in everything, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, food and drink!

    One dose can kill you! Please share with your kids and grandkids!

    Don’t be naive.

    Last but not least, I loved Goose. It was very difficult to see him anchor the Ravens SB team. Rarely a week went by where he wasn’t on TV.
    RIP Tony.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Jackie made a comment about grass and concrete in recruiting players to an urban environment.

      Pitt was no Penn State. Pitt smelled of sulfur, urine, excrement and garbage. New Orleans has a similar smell before the city hoses down bourbon street in the morning.

      Happy/Creepy Valley smelled of sour cow poo with a whiff of burnt vanilla from the Creamery.

      State College had grass and trees. Pitt had concrete and tall buildings. But really the Pitt campus had plenty of greenery with Schenley Park next door.

      A city school isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But it was my strong coffee.

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  11. The Goose blew out his knee Junior year. He probably would have been a round one or two pick if that didn’t happen. Spindler went round three although I graded him a late one or two. Saw with my own eyes.

    Not sure if his knee blew at home. Pitt stadium in those days had a hard surface. And very slick. It was unforgiving.

    Todays new field turf has spring and is much softer and a more natural feel. Plus it doesn’t become a mud pit and the sod doesn’t fly apart. A far safer surface for play.

    I just don’t like fake grass for soccer. Why? Because the ball has a more true line, speed and bounce when the pitch is grass. But that pitch has to be immaculately maintained. There are grass fields in Central America and South America that are terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Spindler blew his knee out at home versus Notre Dame in game 5 of 1988.

      First two games of 1987 with Goose, Spindler and Grossman, Pitt beat BYU (12 sacks in that game!) and shut out NC State, 34-0. Goose hurt in game three versus Temple, a mindnumbing, 24-21, home loss.

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        1. How about that year, might have been Walt’s second year, when we lost to both Temple and Rutgers at Pitt Stadium. And I think we led both games at halftime… Ouch!

          Go Pitt.

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  12. Pitt stadium should have been grass. But Pitt could barely afford the upkeep. Imagine if they had to find money to pay for a grounds crew, water, fertilizer and lawn mowers. Pitt stadium was literally falling apart in the late 80’s. Totally neglected. Pitt was totally negligent.

    Players should have sued Pitt for unsafe playing conditions and impact to potential future pro earnings. As a student and fan, I should have sued for false advertising. Thank you Killer B’s, BOT and Posvar.

    Many good Jersey boys came to Pitt in those days. Too bad the pipeline is now forgotten.

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    1. Should’ve just played on grass and lived with how torn up it would get. Back in those days, people loved messy-looking fields. It wasn’t until Fantasy Football that people became soft when it came to playing surfaces and conditions.

      Here’s an idea Pitt: exercise buyouts when coaches leave, like the $2 million for Sherrill. Use those funds and allocate them to several different areas for rehab or basic upkeep. Or, to hire better assistant coaches for your prize alum, Fazio.

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  13. Fazios brother was my back yard neighbor as a kid. From time to time, I’d get to see him.

    Tex – Indiana County Boy and Sunset Acres.

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  14. We used to play capture the flag on their property and the neighbors. I captured more flags than Fazio did wins.

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  15. I’m relaying this story from a post on the Lair. There was an away game that Pitt lost when our FB kicker missed a short yard FB to end the game. And on the bus ride home it was reported that the “goose” threw the kicker in the bathroom on the bus and wouldn’t let him get out of it until the bus arrived back home in Pittsburgh.

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    1. Could’ve been a variety of games.

      1985 – lost at Ohio State and the kicker missed three FGs.
      1985 – tied @WVU the week after tOSU. Kicker(s) missed four FGs.
      1986 – tied @NC State, 14-14. The kicker missed four FGs. Likely no bus ride for that one.

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  16. Women’s BB — Mark had alerted us that Coach White had hired a new assistant coach – Nick DiPillo. Now I see that assistant coach Josh Petersen is no longer listed on the staff.

    This was likely a tough decision for Coach White. He and Josh go way back to their 6 years at FSU together plus 4 years at Pitt. I thought Coach White was put in a tough spot when 6-4 Junior Center Rita Igbokwe transferred and said she didn’t feel like her game had improved since her freshman year. Petersen coached the bigs.

    Pitt will now have an experienced defensive assistant in Coach Terri Mitchell and an experienced offensive assistant in Coach DiPillo. In addition, former Panther and pro Brianna Keisel will be working with the guards.

    Who knows, but sounds like a good move to me. (BTW, Kiesel was hired for last season, but it appeared she never really got involved because early last season she gave birth to a baby who arrived prematurely…)

    Coach White still needs a replacement center for Igbokwe. They do have some promising guards and forwards coming in…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Does anyone else remember Goose getting in trouble for having a big snake in his dorm or apartment while at Pitt? Not sure if it was him or not.

    He was lean and fast while in school. Really became a run stopper type in the pros.

    Like

      1. Guys that give the cash have a good relationship with current staff and administration. They also are typically fresh off their second and far more lucrative contract after spending 4 years in the league. Few of these players exist for Pitt in the pros. The better bet is to find wealthy boosters from the private sector. But Pitt is also challenged with that since many of these wealthy alums probably don’t know the difference between an American football and a World football. It’s an engagement, cultural and identity thing with Pitt which will never be solved with its current leadership team and Board. And even if the right people are in place, it will take time to come to fruition. Nuts.

        Like

  18. Saw this posted on the Lair:

    “Kenny Pickett signed a 4 year, $14,067,905 contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, including a $7,411,204 signing bonus, $7,411,204 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $3,516,976. In 2022, Pickett will earn a base salary of $705,000 and a signing bonus of $7,411,204, while carrying a cap hit of $2,557,801 and a dead cap value of $14,067,905.”

    KP is rich – good for him…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. B J Williams, a Memphis commitment visiting Pitt. Undersized/oversized…260 lbs listed as an Ol?? Oversized (not really) offers to 7 out of 8 Ivy League schools (minus Cornell??) plus Duke. He has offers from all 3 Service Academies. Only 2 P5 offers //Kansas and Syracuse….I KNOW that it is safe to say that this young man is of VERY HIGH character, but 260lbs not a chance to play OL in the ACC. I have the feeling that he is being sought after as a possible DE, Pitt has done an amazing job of coaching up players that are not heavily recruited. It will be very interesting to see if Williams decommits from Memphis. This is one of the more interesting recruiting stories this year.

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  20. Saw where Josh Petersen, the assistant coach on the women’s BB team who was recently replaced, has been hired by ACC foe Miami. Interesting. I think he may have been from Florida…

    Go Pitt.

    Like

  21. Pat Bostick interviewed Burt Grossman and Sam Clancy about Goose on the Panther Insider radio show this morning. I enjoy this show more now that Pat Bostick is the host. When Chris Peak was hosting, it felt like a 1 hour commercial for his Panther-Lair site. The show airs Saturday mornings on 93.7 The Fan from 8am – 9am.

    Liked by 1 person

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