Former Cowboys coach takes skills to Italy

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by GEORGE RIBA

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WFAA

Posted on February 5, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 6 at 2:33 AM

IRVING — Last week, former Cowboys special teams coach Joe Avezzano was packing for a six month stay in Italy. Avezzano is leaving Dallas and moving to Milan where he will coach the Milan Seamen of the Italian Football league. It'll be quite an adventure for the 68 year old coach.

"If I don't have it, I’ll buy it over there," Avezzano said as he was tossing items into a suitcase.

The Italian Football League is a 13 team league. John Grisham wrote about the league in his book "Playing for Pizza."

"One of the things they asked at first have you ever read John Grisham "Playing for Pizza," Avezzano said. It's a quick, easy fun read but it tells the story of what the league is about."

It doesn't take a coaches' eye to realize the league is not quite up to NFL standards. "People that have done it before says it more like a Division III college," Avezzano said. "People play for passion and the excitement and the love of it. You don't practice as much and you play on Saturday and it gives you free time during the week to go on a trip."

Before he left, the Italian community in Dallas had a special sendoff party for Avezzano to wish him well in his new assignment.

"We want to wish Joe a bon voyage you know a good trip and to be aware that when he gets to Italy, you're not going to be Joe anymore, you're going to be 'Giuseppe' — Giuseppe Avezzano, that's his new name," said Luigi Mungioli from the Italian Club of Dallas.

"I am the long lost heir to the throne," Avezzano joked. "They've been looking for me in Italy for years. Now they've found me and I’m going back and I will return to Avezzano. And that's going to be part of my travels."

Eleven years ago, Avezzano was forced out at Valley Ranch when he learned he would not be part of Bill Parcells' staff. At the time, he took over the Dallas Desperados indoor league team.

"I just love, love the people," Avezzano said at the time. "They sit in the stands and like what you do and like how you do it and how you communicate with every guy on the street. I love that."

Avezzano always keeps the replicas of his three Lombardi trophies close by. He says he'll be coaching players from 18-to-40 — players who also have real jobs during the day. He doesn't speak  Italian, but plans to study the language during his trip — although some things won't need translation.

"When they'll get 'the look,' or when I say some things and the way I say it, they'll get the idea. They won't need an interpreter. That's universal!" Avezzano said.

Avezzano says he'll be back in Texas in July, just in time to watch Cowboys training camp so he critique the team he once coached.

E-mail griba@wfaa.com

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