JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Broncos coach John Fox didn’t really want to talk about his health scare from earlier this season.
When the question started, “I know you’ve talked about this several times so I apologize, but … “ he chuckled uncomfortably.
Part of the reason likely was that he doesn’t want his tale to be a focus of Super Bowl week. But, it’s also because he really doesn’t think about it anymore.
That doesn't mean it's not a really remarkable story.
On Nov. 2, Fox was enjoying his bye week on a golf course in Charlotte when he felt ill and was hospitalized. Shortly after that Fox had heart surgery, a procedure on his aortic valve. He missed four weeks, and returned to lead Denver to Super Bowl XLVIII.
“I never thought I wouldn’t be back,” Fox said on Monday. “Fortunately I had family and good medical people, and here I am. I really haven’t thought about it much, to be honest with you.”
Even though Fox can downplay it now because he’s feeling much better, it was obviously a frightening situation when it happened. Fox knew his valve needed to be fixed and wanted to do it this upcoming offseason, but the situation dictated it had to happen during this Broncos dream season.
“It was a little bit scary for a minute, but I really don’t think about it much now,” Fox said. “Those first four days I thought about it a little bit. It was like getting hit by a truck.
He said his valve is fixed. It used to be the size of a pinhole, he said, and now it’s the size of a 50-cent piece.
“I’m 180 percent better than I was,” Fox said.
Coaches go through a lot during the season, and that was driven home by the health scare Fox had and the mini-stroke that since-fired Texans coach Gary Kubiak had during a game this season. It’s impossible to say if the long hours and hard work of an NFL coach made Fox's condition worse, but the coaching lifestyle likely didn’t help.
The story ends well. Fox looks good, appears full of energy at the end of a long season and will be appearing in his second Super Bowl as a head coach later this week. It was scary right away, but less than three months later it’s almost an afterthought.
“Really it’s been a blessing,” Fox said. “I’m way better now physically than I’ve been the last 10 years of my life. It’s really been an upgrade. I feel tremendous.”
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