Longtime special teams coach Joe Avezzano passes

Longtime special teams coach Joe Avezzano died Thursday of a heart attack in Italy.

Avezzano, 68, worked for 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, winning three Super Bowls. Three times, Azezzano was named the special teams coach of the year. He passed away in Italy where he was coaching the Seamen Milano of the Italian Football League.

“Joe Avezzano was a very special part of our Dallas Cowboys family and our organization’s history,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement released by the organization. “He was also a wonderful father, husband and friend. 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. We grieve with Diann and Tony and the thousands of fans who loved Coach Joe. He was an original. There was no one else like him.”

Said former Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol: “Joe loved being a Dallas Cowboy, and he cared an awful lot about being part of this organization. He also cared a great deal about having his players be as prepared as possible to do their job. He had a very high standard for performance and production from his players. He was also entertaining and could coach with a sense of humor. He was unique in that he could bring humor into the meeting room without having it affect his authority. He made it fun to play for him, but he always demanded respect.”

Avezzano also spent two seasons coaching for the Oakland Raiders and was involved at the college level for many years with stops at Oregon State, Florida State, Iowa State, Pitt, Tennessee and Texas A&M. He also worked as the head coach of the Dallas Desperados in the Arena League, double dipping while he was working for the Cowboys.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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