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Greg Schiano mourns James Gandolfini's passing

Jeff Zelevansky

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released a statement from head coach Greg Schiano on the passing of James Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano on the legendary show The Sopranos. The statement was published on the team's Twitter account.

"I am sad to hear of the passing of Jim Gandolfini. He was a great supporter of Rutgers Football long before it was fashionable to be so. His generosity in helping us lent relevance to our football program at a time when it was desperately needed. In addition to his acting acclaim, he will be remembered by all Rutgers people as a compassionate alum and a great New Jerseyian."

Gandolfini was the centerpiece of one of the best shows to grace the television screen. The Sopranos was revolutionary, and its success paved the way for many more high-quality, long-form television shows. There had been experiments with long-form, weekly TV shows before like Oz and even Babylon 5 -- but none had the impact that The Sopranos.

It was a smart, gripping show that dealt with mature teams. It had a long-term story to tell, and it had incredible popular appeal. And it was powered largely by Gandolfini's acting prowess, as he managed to turn an ostensibly bad man into a sympathetic character. Sadly, the world will now have to do without his talent -- but he'll always be remembered as long as people watch The Sopranos.