Humor

Tales of the Goose: Helicopter landings and boundless humor made former Baltimore Ravens TD Tony Siragusa one of a kind – Baltimore Ravens Blog

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the spring of 2001, the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens held their first minicamp with a notable absence.

Tony Siragusa – aka “the Goose” – was not in the defensive line meeting room. But, his teammates heard he was planning to make a splash. Then, a loud noise was heard throughout the team’s facility. Everyone ran to the training ground.

Siragusa arrived in a helicopter, which landed squarely on the 50-yard line. The loud 350-pound defensive tackle jumped up and slammed it in front of his teammates, pointing his flexed right bicep.

“It was classic,” former Ravens defensive tackle Sam Adams said. “And [coach Brian] Billick was just sitting there with his mouth hanging open like ‘Why me?’ »

Siragusa, who died Wednesday at age 55, may not have won a Pro Bowls or the Ravens Ring of Honor during or after his 12 NFL seasons, but his teammates bear witness to his irrepressible and irreplaceable legacy: Siragusa was a Hall of Fame character.

Even though Siragusa was overlooked for his prowess on the pitch, he made sure everyone saw and heard him in the locker room and in front of the cameras. And, while the Ravens organization mourns his death, his teammates know that Siragusa would want them to remember him with a smile.

“He would expect a roast to be going on at his funeral right now,” said former Ravens kicker Matt Stover, who was Siragusa’s teammate for five seasons. “He would like that.”

Unrestrained humor

Stover was one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL. He was also one of the thickest, thanks in part to Siragusa.

The Ravens would send in Stover for a game-winning shot, and he would hear Siragusa cursing at him, yelling at him, and even threatening him from the sideline.

“Listen, you [expletive]if you miss that kick, don’t come back to that sideline because I’m going to hurt you,” Siragusa said.

Kevin Byrne, the Ravens’ longtime public relations manager, asked Stover if the trash talk helped. “No, but it makes me smile,” Stover replied.

Stover said he appreciated the extra pressure provided by Siragusa. During a practice, Stover asked Siragusa to go all out for him.

So, the goose pulled down his pants and mooned him.

Siragusa’s boundless sense of humor has helped with more than just field goals. During that 2000 championship season, the Ravens didn’t score a touchdown for the entire month of October. It could have been a divisive situation, with the offense failing to reach the end zone in five straight games and the defense giving up just four touchdowns in that span.

“Without him, we wouldn’t have won this Super Bowl because this locker room could have turned so easily,” Stover said. “He kept it loose. He would break the ice in the room. The guy was a huge force in the locker room.

Everyone was a target

Entering the NFL as an undrafted rookie, Siragusa took pride in taking the NFL the hard way, which is why big-name rookies rubbed him the wrong way. He told them not to park their expensive car near his because he would open his door wildly and dent them.

Siragusa, who hated weigh-ins, also had rookies fill out the board above the scales for him.

“Put on whatever you want,” Siragusa said on the inaugural season of HBO’s Hard Knocks. “Put 215 [pounds]. Let’s scare them a little. I lost 900 lbs — today!

Siragusa endeared himself to his teammates because he joked about everyone, including the coaches. When then-defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis lost the Bills’ head coaching job, Siragusa asked him, “What are you going to do with all the snowblowers you bought?”

No one was safe from Siragusa. In 2001, he brought paint guns to boot camp to harass recruits. After Billick threatened Siragusa and asked him to stop, the obnoxious defensive lineman fired a paintball at a guard, who was on a ladder trying to clean a paint stain off a second story wall.

When the hotel clerk angrily came down the ladder, Siragusa took a roll of cash from his wallet and handed it to him. The guard smiles.

“He was just the life of every room he walked in,” former Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware said.

not good with it

Siragusa was not penalized when he drove Rich Gannon into the turf, forcing the Raiders quarterback out of the 2000 AFC Championship game. He was, however, fined $15,000, which he blamed on television analyst Phil Simms.

While televising the game, Simms insisted that Siragusa should have been flagged because Simms believed he was trying to injure Gannon — a claim Siragusa claimed prompted the league to punish him.

Two weeks later, Siragusa stood over Simms at a Super Bowl production meeting and told him he owed him $15,000. When Simms said he wasn’t going to be intimidated, Siragusa asked Simms about the progress of his New Jersey home construction.

“How do you know that?” Sims asked.

Siragusa, who is from New Jersey, replied, “Let me tell you this: when you’re missing $15,000 worth of shrubs, you’ll know where they are.”

Ultimate Teammate

In October 2000, Siragusa was carried off the field during a game against the Tennessee Titans and checked into the local hospital with a bruised spinal cord.

“We picked him up and put him in the stretcher,” Adams said. “I get teary eyed when they take him off the pitch. Then I see him come back in and I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’

Siragusa was advised not to return to the match, but he decided to ignore the advice as he didn’t want to let his teammates down. This commitment to his teammates hasn’t garnered as much attention as his wise beards.

On Christmas Eve 1999, a fire burned down the apartment of Ravens defensive end Fernando Smith. Siragusa showed up with $10,000 worth of clothes and a car full of toys for the kids.

“He looked after his teammates,” Byrne said. “He had a generous heart.

When Siragusa entered the NFL, he spent his entire $1,000 signing bonus from the Indianapolis Colts at a bar. When he announced his retirement 12 years later, he did so at a watering hole on his weekly radio show.

“I had a lot of fun, I had a lot of memories,” Siragusa said in January 2002. “I feel like I’m going to have to wake up and pinch myself because I’ve had so much fun in my career. If anyone has as much fun in one year as I had in 12, he will be very happy.