Former Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano died unexpectedly on Sunday morning. He was 56.
The Minnesota Vikings announced his passing, though an exact cause of death is unknown.
He was the Vikings offensive line coach, a position he held since 2016. Sparano had been an NFL coach for nearly two decades, with stints in Oakland and San Francisco. He was also Miami's head coach from 2008-11.
He was hired to run the Raiders offensive line in 2013, and was promoted to interim head coach after Dennis Allen was fired four games into the 2014 campaign.
Sparano showed well in that role, kept the team playing hard during a difficult 3-13 season and nearly had the interim tag removed. He was a finalist for 2015 head coaching job, though Jack Del Rio ultimately got the job.
He left the organization then, and spent the 2015 season as 49ers tight ends coach. He ended up in Minnesota after that.
Sparano helped the Raiders finished 2014 with a three wins over their final six games, which started an upward trend that carried through 2016. He also remained patient with then-rookie starter Derek Carr.
Left tackle Donald Penn joined the Raiders in 2014, and experienced a career renaissance that season under Sparano.
The Silver and Black mourned Sparano's loss.
"The Raiders family was deeply saddened to learn of Tony Sparano's passing this morning," the team said in a statement. "Tony had a deep passion for football and was embraced by the Raider Nation during his time with the Silver and Black. Tony will be sadly missed by the entire NFL community. Our hearts are with (his wife) Jeanette and the Sparano family during this extremely difficult time."
The 49ers also paid respects to the longtime NFL coach.
“The 49ers organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Tony Sparano,” the 49ers said in a statement. “We share our heartfelt condolences with the Sparano family and the Minnesota Vikings.”
Sparano is survived by his wife Jeanette, their three children and four grandchildren.