When I first read about Joe Avezzano’s death on April 5, 2012, I didn’t think a lot about it. I didn’t even know who he was, truth be told. As I began to read countless stories about his life, it got me to thinking that he needed a proper tribute here at the Landry Hat. So forgive me for being two weeks late with what many of you already knew about this legend.
Coach Joe, that’s what everyone called him. As the special teams coach for the Dallas Cowboys, (1990-2002), he was loved by players, fellow coaches, and fans. His ability to make people smile and his power to motivate players made him a most beloved coach. He will be forever missed by those who knew him.
Joseph William Avezzano was born on November 17, 1943, in Yonkers, New York. He attended Jackson High School in Miami, Florida, then played football at Florida State University. He was drafted by the Boston Patriots in 1966 and played in three regular season games. His coaching career began in 1967 at Washington High School in Ohio. He then coached in various positions at the following: Florida State, Iowa State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Tennessee, and head coach at Oregon State.
In 1984, after a dismal head coaching gig, Coach Joe was fired at OSU for having a record of 6-47-2. He was then hired as the offensive line coach, (1985-1988) at Texas A&M. The Aggies saw some of their better days during his tenure in College Station. In 1990, Dallas Cowboys head coach, Jimmy Johnson, hired Joe as the special teams coach. Over the next 12 years, he would be named Special Teams Coach of the Year, three times, lead the league in special teams touchdowns, average kickoff returns, and help the Cowboys win three Super bowls.
What I learned about the man is far greater than team records. What I read, over and over again, was his passion and love for the game, and most importantly, his players. Coach Joe always told it like it was and garnered respect from everyone around him.
Dale Hansen, WFAA sports anchor said:
It didn’t matter to me if he could or not, I just wanted to be around Joe Avezzano as much as I could. Because I love people who live life the way he did. Who love life as much as he did. And who made my life, and so many others, a little bit better.
I found this gem – Craig Miller interviews Coach Dave Campo and Coach Joe, from the Ticket:
Here’s Chalk Talk with Coach Joe:
As I continued researching Coach Joe’s life, I couldn’t find anyone, including rival coaches and/or fans, who said one bad word about the man. When you come to the end of your life and not one person can find something negative to say, you know you’ve done it right. Coach Joe is one of those people who will always be remembered for his smile, his songs, and his legacy. Well done, Joe.
Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, who brought Avezzano to the Cowboys from Texas A&M in 1990, said:
Coach Joe was a great guy and did a great job coaching our Super Bowl teams. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.