Jones on Avezzano: 'No one else like him'

Jones on Avezzano: 'No one else like him'

Published Apr. 5, 2012 3:19 p.m. ET

Joe Avezzano, the popular former special teams coach with Dallas Cowboys, died of a heart attack Thursday. The Cowboys confirmed Avezzano's death while coaching a team in Milan, Italy.

Avezzano coached the Cowboys' special teams from 1990-2002, including the glory days of the early 1990s when the team won three Super Bowls. He was named special teams coach of the year three times but left the club in 2003 when Bill Parcells became head coach.

Avezzano was a popular figure among fans, many who simply knew him as "Coach Joe." With his friendly nature but honest observations about football, he was often a guest or co-host on local radio and television shows.

He was also the first head coach of the Dallas Desperados, an Arena Football League team that was also owned by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

"Joe Avezzano was a very special part of our Dallas Cowboys family and our organization's history," Jones said in a statement. "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 [wife] Diann and [son] Tony and the thousands of fans who loved Coach Joe. He was an original. There was no one else like him."

Before joining the Cowboys, Avezzano had been an assistant at several colleges including Texas A&M. After leaving the Cowboys, Avezzano coached special teams for the Oakland Raiders from 2003-2005.

He was coaching the Milan Seamen, an Italian Football League team, at the time of his death.

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire