Joe Avezzano, the 68-year-old former Cowboys special teams coach, died of a heart attack on Thursday.
Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple confirmed the news of Avezzano’s passing, adding that the former Dallas assistant died in Italy.
Avezzano, affectionately known in the Dallas area as “Coach Joe,” 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.
“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 team. “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.”
Following his run with the Cowboys, Avezzano was hired as the inaugural head coach of the Cowboys-owned Dallas Desperados of the Arena Football League, according to the team’s website.
He later coached with the Oakland Raiders before moving to Italy.
Prior to the NFL, Avenzzano was the offensive line coach at Texas A&M from 1985–1988 under head coach Jackie Sherrill, during which time the Aggies won three Southwest Conference titles and two Cotton Bowls. He also served as offensive coordinator for Texas A&M in 1988.
ESPN writes that Joe Avezzano is the only three-time winner of the NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year award voted on by NFL special teams coaches.
Avezzano is survived by his wife, Diann, and his son, Tony.
Former Cowboys’ safety Darren Woodson talks about the impact that coach Joe Avezzano had on him in the video below: