If you followed the Dallas Cowboy dynasty of the 90s, you’ll remember the most high intensity guy on the sidelines was not head coach Jimmy Johnson, but their special teams coach. He was Joe Avezzano, the non-stop Energizer Bunny of an assistant, impossible to miss with flowing silver hair and a silver Dallas jacket to match.
But before he was a Cowboy, he was a Nole. A 6-foot-1, 225-ish-pound offensive lineman — undersized but overconfident. Like the time before FSU’s first win over UF in 1964, when Avezzano assured Coach Bill Peterson his QB would be well protected: “You don’t have to worry about Steve Tensi, coach. He can wear a tuxedo out there tomorrow.”
And he could have. Tensi’s jersey stayed spotless as he connected with Fred Biletnikoff to send the Steve Spurrier-led Gators home with an “L.”
After FSU, Avezzano played a couple years with the Patriots of the old American Football League. Then, to launch a coaching career, it was back to Tallahassee to join Bill Peterson’s staff as a grad assistant (1968). He spent the next 40-plus years coaching in college and the pros, including head coaching gigs at both levels. Truly, it was a life in football — right up until his final moment.
So as we anxiously count the days to the kickoff of a new season, look back at one of the guys who helped lift the program from underdog status to one of the iconic brands in college football. And who never forgot where he came from.
From the Garnet & Great podcast: Listen here for the interview with Avezzano.