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Klee: Life, fishing opportunities more relevant for Broncos' John Fox

By: Paul Klee
November 4, 2013 Updated: November 5, 2013 at 6:16 pm
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DENVER - This thought arrived on Saturday, as my dad was catching and releasing another brown trout into the Arkansas River.

I would like to see my dad release 1,000 more trout into the Arkansas River. Or 10,000, if Orvis ever decides to sponsor a father-son fly-fishing team, just because we're nice guys.

I would prefer never to deal with what John Fox and his family are dealing with, a heart surgery that has taken him away from the Broncos and put Jack Del Rio in charge as interim coach.

I would prefer that my dad never again deal with what he dealt with, a pair of heart surgeries, because life is a lot more fun when we are fishing.

I would prefer if I could fish with my dad forever.

This is about Fox, not my dad, although I appreciate Fox for some of the reasons I love my dad. Both will strike up a conversation with anyone. Both choose laughter over angst. Both care more about the person next to them than they care for themselves.

Come to think of it, the latter is probably why Fox underwent aortic valve replacement surgery in a Charlotte hospital around 8 a.m. Monday:

He doesn't care for himself often enough.

"I'm speaking for my dad. I wish he would've taken better care of himself," John Elway said. "But in a lot of coaches' minds, that's the mentality. They're all about the football team."

As Elway spoke about Fox's condition, I sensed clear emotion from the Broncos boss. Jack Elway was a longtime coach. He died from a heart attack in 2001.

"The last person on the totem pole they take care of is themselves," John Elway said.

Truth is, our dads are so tied up, as Elway put it, largely because they want a better life for the rest of us. In a high-pressure, results-based business such as coaching, they spend little time on their own well-being.

"Our concern will not only be John's health for the rest of this season, but John's health for the rest of his life," Elway said.

Recovering from heart surgery is no walk on the sideline.

When will Fox return there? The typical recovery for a patient in Fox's condition ranges from a few weeks to a few months, said Dr. Eric Skipper, the medical director of cardiac surgery at the Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute in Charlotte.

Fox's gung-ho personality suggests he returns to the Broncos as soon as his wife, Robin, allows him.

"Just speaking in generalities, once you're able to fulfill the requirements of the job, you're able to go back to work," Dr. Skipper said.

Don't rush it, coach. Go fishing. The Broncos aren't going anywhere.

When a piece of the heart is replaced by a mechanical valve or biological tissue, football is replaced as a priority.

"We all want to make him proud," Del Rio said.

Denver is fortunate to have Del Rio, an ideal choice for interim coach if there is one. A head coach for eight years in Jacksonville, he carries the strong presence of a man in charge.

"It's always been like having two head coaches on the sideline," Broncos lineman Terrance Knighton, who also played for Del Rio in Jacksonville, told me.

From what I gathered, this is good for Fox. He was planning to have this surgery after the football season. Instead, life happened. Elway said the surgery was considered successful.

"I was shocked when I heard about it," wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said. "Me and Coach Fox are real close."

Bye weeks or game days, last weekend offered new proof of an old truth:

Coaching is as stressful as it is glamorous. It is tough on bodies and tougher on families.

On Saturday, Fox suffered chest pains that sent him from a golf course to a hospital. On Sunday, former Broncos aide and player Gary Kubiak collapsed on the field during a Texans game and was taken to a hospital.

My dad drove himself to the hospital.

My dad and I go fishing now more than we used to. It's a good idea, fishing, because you never know when life will happen.

Fox is a fisherman. He chases redfish up and down the Carolina and Florida coasts.

I hope he coaches the Broncos again this season because that means he's recovered.

It also means he will go fishing again, which is the important part.


Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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