ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Head Coach John Fox had a goal in mind all along.
That's how long he would wait before returning to coaching.
"As scary of a moment as that Saturday was I think you take a step back and look – we’re not the world’s brightest bulbs as far as when it comes to our health," Fox said of the light-headed feeling on a golf course that sent him to the hospital for heart surgery. "So I think a lot of it was going to be on how I felt. I actually felt probably ready to do it a week earlier. But we kind of made an agreement – ‘we’ is a lot of different people – and I’m thankful for how things worked, just about perfectly.”
Fox's return to the building Monday served as his "indoctrination back into being the head coach."
For the past month as Fox recovered from aortic heart valve replacement surgery, Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio served as interim head coach.
When the team got word that Fox would be back in Denver last week, it was Del Rio's idea that Fox stop by the facility to surprise the players on Thanksgiving.
“It was emotional," Fox said. "I think when you start thinking about all the things you are thankful for and portraying that to the team -- it was a little bit emotional. It had been a while since I had seen them – a little bit emotional for them and me but I think it was uplifting and turned out to be a good way to send them off.”
The team went on to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-28 to move to 10-2 on the season -- including a 3-1 record during Fox's absence.
"It’s a tribute to all of the hard work that went on in this building and I’m very proud and excited about moving forward," Fox said.
As the team said in its statement announcing Fox's return to coaching, the head coach will have no formal restrictions on his workload. In fact, Fox said he is already healthier than he was prior to his open-heart surgery.
“I feel tremendous," he said. "As my surgeon said, I had a valve that was about as big as a pinhead, now it’s the size of a 50-cent piece. I feel tremendous. Obviously, the doctors feel good about me getting back to work. I actually had looked forward to getting back sooner, but there was a pretty hard deadline of four weeks post-surgery. I honored that and here I am."
During his time away, Fox stayed in touch with the team and said he did virtually everything he typically does at Dove Valley, he just did it from his home across the country.
So he doesn't have to play catch-up to stay familiar with his team -- he was plenty involved during what he joked was "the longest bye week in history."
For the head coach, now it's all about "just getting back into the routine."
"Probably much like a player in the league who has missed four weeks -- getting back into the routine," he said. "I’ve never done it before so this is my first time, but like I said I feel as healthy as I’ve ever felt over the last 20 years. Our team is in a good position. We still have a lot of work ahead of us with a whole quarter of the season left – the most important quarter and that’s the fourth quarter. I’m real excited to move forward.”