DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas Cowboys confirm former special teams coach Joe Avezzano has died after suffering a heart attack in Italy.

Avezzano was born in New York, but grew up in Miami where he played High School football. After starting at guard at Florida State he was drafted by the Boston Patriots.

Joe started his football career as a player, but made his mark in coaching. He made several coaching stops include Iowa State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and most notably with his first head coaching job at Oregon State in 1980.

Avezzano was the offensive line coach at Texas A&M from 1985–1988 under head coach Jackie Sherrill, during which time the Aggies won three Southwest Conference titles and two Cotton Bowls. He also served as offensive coordinator for Texas A&M in 1988.

In 1990, Avezanno was hired by Jimmy Johnson to be the special teams coach for the Dallas Cowboys. He spent the next 13 seasons in that position winning 3 Super Bowl rings.

Joe is the only three-time winner of the NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year award voted on by NFL special teams coaches.

When Avezzano wasn’t retained by the Cowboys under coach Bill Parcells, Jerry Jones gave him the gig coaching the Dallas Desperados before Avezzano was hired by Norv Turner to work with the Raiders until 2005.

Aside from the sports ties, Avezzano was owner of Coach Joe’s Bar & Grill in Frisco and Hat Tricks in Lewisville.

PLAY: Former Dallas Cowboy Dale Hellestrae remembers Coach Joe

The Dallas Cowboys released a statement from Owner/CEO Jerry Jones on the passing of Coach Joe. “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.”

PLAY: The voice of the Dallas Cowboys, Brad Sham remembers Coach Joe

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