In tragic news, Joe Avezzano, the long-time special teams coach of the Dallas Cowboys, passed away Thursday morning at the age of 68.
Avezzano was coaching the Milan Seamen of the Italian Football League. The earliest reports indicate that he had a heart attack while working out on a treadmill:
According to the cowboys, Avezzano was in Italy when he suffered a heart attack, leading to his death... RIP Coach Joe— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) April 5, 2012
He became a local celebrity in Dallas in his time with the Cowboys, where he served as the special teams coach from 1990-2002. His sense of humor made him a fan and media favorite, helping him survive four different coaching changes.
Bill Parcells let him go when he took over in 2002, but Avezzano stayed in the Dallas area, becoming the head coach of the Arena Football League's Dallas Desperados, who were also owned by Jerry Jones.
A center at Florida State in the 1960's, the Yonkers native got into coaching almost as immediately after his playing days were over, slowly moving up the ranks before taking over as the Oregon State head coach in the 1980's and them moving on the Cowboys with Jimmy Johnson in 1990.