Joe Avezzano, special teams coach on the Cowboys' three Super Bowl championship teams in the 1990s and one of the most popular figures in franchise history, has died at the age of 68, reportedly in Italy due to a heart attack.
"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. "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."
Last December, Avezzano was named head coach of the Seamen Milano, continuing a 43-year coaching career known best for his fiery 13-year tenure as Cowboys special teams coach (1990-2002).
"Coach Joe" also was the inaugural head coach of the Cowboys-owned Dallas Desperados in the Arena Football League (2002-03). From 2003-05 he coached the Raiders' special teams, his final coaching job in the NFL.