Former Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown on Tony Sparano: ‘You knew that he had your back’

Sunday’s passing of Tony Sparano brought tributes for the long-time NFL coach from all over the league.

Former running back Ronnie Brown, who played for the Miami Dolphins when Sparano was their head coach, thought one of Sparano’s greatest qualities was how he connected with players beyond preparing them for and guiding them through games.

‘He wanted to see you do well and you could sense that’

“I think the best word to describe him is passionate,” Brown told Zig Fracassi and Adam Caplan on SiriusXM NFL Rewind. “That’s about family, that’s about football, that’s about the way he approached the preparation of the week of practice. And you look at that, the pressure of doing that and being in the business that we were in, outside of it, he was still encouraging me. He wanted to see you do well and you could sense that. That’s not always the case with everyone, but is with him as a coach.

“You knew that he had your back, he was in your corner and he was really rooting for you. So when you have a guy like that, you want to do well and it’s important to you because you know it’s important to him and the way he carried himself.”

‘You saw the importance that he made people feel about themselves’

Brown was always impressed with the high level of respect Sparano, who was the Dolphins’ head coach from 2018 to 2011 and spent the past two seasons as offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings, managed to gain from players and assistant coaches alike.

“It just says a lot about who he was,” Brown said. “You saw the importance that he made people feel about themselves and the importance that he shows for his family and the love of who he was and how he represented that Sparano name, and I think he did a tremendous job. But being in the setting that we were in as NFL players, the high-pressure situation and for him to come in with the challenges he had, he always showed the players that he cares about them. He was always motivating and encouraging. That just says a lot about the personality, outside of him being a coach, but just the person that he was.”

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