The shocking dealth of coach Joe Avezzano, 68, is a huge loss to the Cowboys and to football as Avezzano was one of the game's most passionate coaches and unique characters.
Probably no one was with him as long as former Cowboys cornerback Kevin Smith who initially met Avezzano as freshman at Texas A&M in 1988 and then was reacquainted with him when he was drafted by the Cowboys in 1992.
“I have been knowing his whole family since I was 18 years old,” Smith said. “My young adult life was spent knowing Coach Joe. No one more demanding outside of Jimmy Johnson than Coach Coe. Guys respected him more than their position coach. He expected the best out of you and looked for the best. He was a big part of your success in the 1990s. Everybody on the team respected Coach Joe even if you didn’t play special teams like Troy Aikman and Charles Haley.”
Former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson, who was a member of the three title teams, said Avezzano was innovative in demanding because he has starters buying in and playing special teams.
“He was going to get the most out of his unit,” Woodson said. “He didn’t care if you were a starter or not. He was great coach. But he was a better man than was a coach. Talk to anybody on that team and they all respected the guy for what he was and what he brought. He is going to be missed.
Avezzano was recognized as one of the NFL’s premier special team coaches. He coached with the Cowboys from 1990-2002, including the team’s run of three Super Bowl titles in four years in the early 1990s.
Ater being let go by the Cowboys when Parcells took over in 2003, Avezzano coached the special teams coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2003-2005.
He also coached the Dallas Desperados of the Arena Football League.
In the past few years, Avezzano, who was a sought after motivational speaker, tried to stay as close to the game as he could as a radio and television commentator as well as doing football clinics, including working on Michael Irvin's Reality Show 4th and Long before heading to Italy in February for a sixth-month stay as coach of the Milan Seamen of the Italian Football League.
He planned to return to Dallas in time for the Cowboys training camp in late July.