- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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Five-time Pro Bowler Darren Woodson was stunned to learn about the passing of former Cowboys special teams coach Joe Avezzano.
"It's hard to believe," Woodson said Thursday afternoon. "I haven't talked to Joe in a year and half, but whenever we do talk it's always a strong conversation, as if we talk to each other every day."
Woodson said he learned about all three phases of football -- and being on time -- from Avezzano.
"I always learned about punctuality," Woodson said. "If a meeting started at 8 a.m., Coach Joe would say the meeting started when he got there. So if he got there at 7:45 a.m., that's when the meetings started. I carried that around from Day 1 after I met him."
Woodson said several of the Cowboys' players from the 1990s had a special bond with Avezzano because he was able to separate the business side of the NFL.
"He knew your family, he knows all my kids and I know his wife and son," Woodson said. "Daryl Johnston, Kenny Gant, all of us loved him. Back then, the starters played on special teams and if I'm playing 75 defensive snaps I also played on three special teams units. I would get tired and he would say, 'I ain't hearing that stuff.' He would jump on my butt and D.J.'s butt in meetings if we messed up. But he was a part of my family away from football too."