JOE AVEZZANO Former
Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe Avezzano, whose wild sideline antics
made him a fan favorite when the Cowboys won three Super Bowls in the
1990s, died Thursday. He was 68.
April 5, 2012
Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple
confirmed that Avezzano died in Italy. He had moved to Milan earlier this
year to coach an Italian Football League team, the Milan Seamen. That team
said on its website that Avezzano died of a heart attack. Attempts to
resuscitate Avezzano were unsuccessful, the team said.
Avezzano had a
12-year run with the Cowboys and became a popular figure in North Texas. He
was the Cowboys' special teams coach from 1990 to 2002, prowling the
sidelines as the team won Super Bowls in 1993, '94 and '96. Avezzano was
named the NFL's special teams coach of the year three times.
affectionately in the Dallas area as "Coach Joe," he maintained a high
profile after he left the Cowboys when Bill Parcells was hired as head
coach in 2003.
"There are not many days that go by where we are not
sharing a legendary Joe Avezzano story or using a trademark Joe Avezzano
expression," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "He was a wonderful
friend. We loved him very much, and he will be sorely missed."
two seasons as head coach of the Arena Football League's Dallas
Desperadoes, which were owned by the family of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
He became a regular on Cowboys-related TV and radio shows in the Dallas
market and opened a "Coach Joe's" restaurant in the area.
was a very special part of our Dallas Cowboys family and our organization's
history," Jones said in a statement released by the team. "No one enjoyed
life more than Joe, and no one that I know had a greater appreciation for
the people that he loved and the lives that he touched. There was no one
else like him."
Avezzano also coached special teams for the Oakland
Raiders for two years under Norv Turner until Turner was fired after the
2005 season. Avezzano and Turner were on the staff together in Dallas.
"Joe Avezzano was a great coach and a super guy," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello
said. "We are saddened by his loss."
In February, Avezzano took over the
Seamen. Italians in Dallas threw Avezzano a send-off party before he left,
Dallas television station WFAA reported.
"I am the long lost heir to the
throne," Avezzano joked, according to the station. "They've been looking
for me in Italy for years. Now they've found me and I'm going back and I
will return to Avezzano. And that's going to be part of my travels."