Reaction: Joe Avezzano, 1943-2012

Reaction to the death of longtime Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe Avezzano, who died Thursday in Italy at the age of 68:

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones:

“Joe Avezzano was a very special part of our Dallas Cowboys family and our organization’s history. 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.”

Former Cowboys safety/special teams standout Bill Bates:

“No. 1, what a great husband and a great dad and obviously a great friend and coach that I’ll miss forever. It just breaks my heart for the family. I knew he was in Italy, coaching over there. … I had no idea anything like this would happen. It just breaks my heart for everybody.”

Former Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer:

“Joe would rather have been a country western music star or on-stage performer than a football coach if he had a choice. Joe did a great job coaching, was highly ambitious and a hard worker, but Joe always thought he could sing. I got a kick out of that.”

Former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, via Twitter (@JimmyJohnson):

"Joe was great guy and coach..prayers go out to his family..."

Cowboys wide receiver Jesse Holley, via Twitter (@Mr4thAndLong):

"Coach Joe Taught me how important Sp Teams was & it doesnt take talent 2 be great on Sp Teams it takes Effort, Passion & "Want To"!"

Cowboys kicking coach Chris Boniol, who was coached by Avezzano for three seasons:

"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."

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett

"Joe Avezzano was a great football coach, but, more than that, he was an outstanding human being. The impact that he had on me and the hundreds of other players and coaches who had the good fortune to be around him was significant. 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. He was a wonderful friend. We loved him very much, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Diann, and his son, Tony."