DALLAS -- Former Cowboys special teams coach Joe Avezzano, whose wild sideline antics made him a fan favorite when the franchise won three Super Bowls in the 1990s, died Thursday. He was 68.
Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple confirmed that Avezzano died in Italy, where he had moved earlier this year to coach an Italian Football League team, the Milan Seamen. That team said on its website that Avezzano died of a heart attack. Attempts to resuscitate Avezzano were unsuccessful, the team said.
Avezzano had a 12-year run with the Cowboys and became a popular figure in North Texas. Avezzano was the Cowboys' special teams coach from 1990 to 2002, prowling the sideline as the team won Super Bowls in 1993, 1994 and 1996. Avezzano was named the NFL's special teams coach of the year three times.
Affectionately known in the Dallas area as "Coach Joe," Avezzano maintained a high profile after he left the Cowboys' staff when Bill Parcells was hired as head coach in 2003.
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"Joe Avezzano was a very special part of our Dallas Cowboys family and our organization's history," Jones said in a statement released by the Cowboys. "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. There was no one else like him."
"Joe Avezzano was a great coach and a super guy," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "We are saddened by his loss."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press