Joe Avezzano dies at 68

Joe Avezzano, the well-known special teams coach of the Dallas Cowboys' last three Super Bowl champion teams, died of a heart attack Thursday in Italy. He was 68 years old.

You didn't have to be a Cowboys fan to know who Avezzano was in the 1990s. He was one of the most recognizable assistant coaches in the league, known for his excitable sideline personality as well as the success he had as the coordinator of the Cowboys' special teams. He was named the NFL's special teams coach of the year three times during his tenure in Dallas, which ran from 1990 to 2002.

"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."

The Tim MacMahon obituary linked above is worth reading if you remember Avezzano and those Cowboys teams. I never met the man, so I'm a poor eulogist here, but I enjoyed Barry Switzer's description of Avezzano as a wannabe country music star or stage performer. A lot of people who were around those Cowboys teams have come out since the news broke and spoken about how engaging and helpful he was, and that says a lot about a man. If you're a Cowboys fan who remembers those championship teams, there are plenty of images of Avezzano in your mind, and it's sad to hear that he's gone.