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Smoking with Siragusa

Larger-than-life football star, TV commentator and man-cave creator Tony Siragusa always speaks his mind

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"The Sopranos" acting experience wasn't nearly as smooth. He played Frank Cortese, Tony's driver and bodyguard, but he disliked spending 18 hours on the set and being filmed for two minutes. "I said to this lady, 'You're wasting my life.' With Spike it was like 'Goose, you're on. Be here at this time.' Boom. You're done. But these guys were making up "The Sopranos" as we were sitting there. They're saying, 'Oh, what do you think he should do?' 'Oh, I think I should go over here.' 'Alright, you go over there and what do you want to do?' 'I'm going to go over there. Uh, let's talk about it,' " he says. "They had four writers, so it was a little bit crazy." The spot ended when they wanted him to shoot during a planned vacation.
Siragusa's perennial, and natural, gig is being a sideline analyst for the Fox Network during football season. "When you are in the booth, you are away from the game. You don't have a feel of the whole momentum of the game or the players going through the elements or anything like that. So my being on the sideline is like having the booth down on the field and having the understanding of what players are doing, what's actually happening and how they are talking to each other, what's going on. And if you get into the end zone-every coach and player whenever they watch the game, they watch it from the end zone.
"I like during commercials when the players come over and say, 'Hey, what did you see on that replay?' It's the interaction with the guys. Or when the offense is coming at me and they are on the two-yard line. I can say, 'Right before that play the quarterback was touching,' or 'You knew that the play was going that way and they read it really good.' Or, 'They had no clue because you read people's eyes.' "
Siragusa prepares to light a second Partagas, which begins a conversation about what he likes in cigars. "Look, I'm no connoisseur of cigars. A good cigar, though, is nice. You know you got a good taste in your mouth. Relaxed. I'm not the kind of guy either that feels that you gotta smoke the whole entire cigar. You know when I smoke a cigar—like right now—I'm nice and relaxed. I smoked a nice piece of the cigar. Then I'll put it down for a little while and enjoy it. I'll light it back up.
"I smoke a lot of Cubans. I like a Montecristo. It's a good smooth cigar. I like torpedoes. I could smoke more of a Montecristo and less of a Partagas Black," he says of the Dominican cigar, known for being among the more powerful of General Cigar Co.'s smokes. "Partagas Black—when you smoke a couple of inches of it, you smoke half a cigar-w-o-o-o-o. You get a buzz."
Smoking cigars helps Siragusa get away, to take time for himself. "I don't smoke cigars just to smoke cigars. I want to relax. It slows me down. Especially where we live; New Jersey is like a fucking rat race. It's unbelievable. It's crazy. It's your own little time. You're in your own little capsule," he says. "I don't have to be inside. I can be outside. I can be on the golf course. I can be at the beach. I can be wherever I want. But I have a home theatre and wine cellar and like a 1,000-cigar humidor that has all the cigars.
"I don't want to bother anybody with my cigar smell or anything like that. I don't want to show anyone that I smoke cigars. I want to go and just relax somewhere and have a cigar a couple of times a week."
Siragusa's take on cigars is much like his football career. Just as he might leave a bit of his cigars unsmoked, he could have stretched his playing days a bit longer. "I quit on my own terms after 12 years. I might have made a couple of more million dollars. But I might have been in a wheelchair or getting a knee replacement by now. I knew that I was about to move on and I'm going to go do something else," he explains, taking another hearty puff of that Partagas. "And whatever I decide to do, I'll be good at. That's the way it is."
Kenneth Shouler is a philosophy professor at the County College of Morris in Randolph, New Jersey and a frequent contributor to Cigar Aficionado.
Kenny Braun Barnhart, Missouri, U.S., October 4, 2013 10:38am ET
Great article! Love the fact that he's a "what I would call" normal smoker. Whenever he feels like he needs to relax he has a smoke, nothing to grab attention or chain smoke. I had a chance to chat with Goose at a benefit dinner about 3 years ago... how he spoke in this article is 100% spot on. Absolutely genuine, and no holds barred. One of the most sincere former professional athletes I have ever spoken with.
ernie brambert October 5, 2013 10:06am ET
I agree. A great article on Tony. I had the pleasure of meeting him in 1990 when he and another Colt rookie stopped one night in the department store I was working part time. I was trying to pitch an expensive leather coat to him and while unsuccessful effort in my effort, it was a fun experience. I realized he is the real deal. That carrys over to his brodacasting too. Such a refreshing personality. And fellow cigar aficionado as well.

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