Avezzano reunited with Norv Turner

Updated: February 5, 2004, 5:16 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Joe Avezzano was hired Thursday as special teams coach by the Oakland Raiders, reuniting him with new Raiders coach Norv Turner.

Avezzano and Turner worked together on the Dallas Cowboys from 1991-93, when Turner was offensive coordinator and Avezzano was special teams coach.

"We're pleased to have Joe join the Raiders, as he is widely recognized as one of the NFL's top special teams coaches," Turner said. "Joe is a prove winner and he is also an outstanding teacher."

Avezzano, 60, replaces Bob Casullo, who had been the Raiders' special teams coach since 2000, but he was not retained in the transition to Turner from former coach Bill Callahan.

Turner is talking with another former Dallas assistant, Wade Wilson, about the position of Raiders quarterbacks coach. Wilson, a longtime NFL quarterback, was on the Dallas staff for three seasons when Dave Campo was head coach.

Avezzano was special teams coach for the Cowboys from 1990 to 2002, during which Dallas won three Super Bowls, and spent the last two years as head coach of the Arena Football League's Dallas Desperados -- which are owned by the family of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Avezzano held the dual roles of Cowboys special teams coach and Desperados head coach in 2002 while on Campo's staff.

Avezzano was not retained by the Cowboys when Bill Parcells became head coach in 2003.

With the Cowboys, Avezzano drew attention for his wild sideline antics. He was a three-time winner of the NFL special teams coach of the year award, which is voted on by his peers. He also was a popular figure in the Dallas area as a wannabe country music singer.

During his Cowboys tenure, the Dallas special teams returned 18 kickoffs and punts for touchdowns and also blocked 23 kicks. His units annually ranked among the best in the league. He won special teams coach of the year honors in 1991, '93 and '98.

In the AFL, his teams went 18-15, reaching the postseason both times and winning a division title. The Desperados begin their third season Sunday. Replacing Avezzano will be Will McClay, the club's defensive coordinator.

Avezzano joined the Cowboys' staff under Jimmy Johnson in 1990 after a long stint in the college ranks. A center for the then-Boston Patriots in 1966, he began his coaching career at Florida State, his alma mater, two years later. He made six stops at the college level, including five seasons as coach at Oregon State (1980-84), before moving on to the NFL.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior NFL writer Len Pasquarelli was used in this report.