ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The stresses of coaching in the NFL are well-documented. But John Fox could hardly be in a better spot than his workplace as he completes his rehabilitation from aortic-valve replacement surgery.
On game days, team doctors are nearby, and an ambulance is available in the tunnel. Whenever he's at Broncos headquarters, the team's training staff is on hand to help provide assistance when the need arises, and you can't toss a pass down a hall at Dove Valley without hitting a defibrillator, on hand for anyone at the facility who might face a life-threatening cardiac emergency.
That's why the key phrase in the team statement regarding Fox's return was this:
"He will continue to be monitored by our medical staff as his well-being remains our No. 1 priority."
The protocols are already in place to ensure that Fox will be carefully monitored, so his recovery continues unabated. At his workplaces, he's at among the best places one can be if an emergency arises, other than a hospital.
Further, the surgery Fox underwent usually allows the patient's circulatory system to be stronger and more efficient than it has been in years.
The Broncos and Fox will take no chances with his health, and they can continue to lean on Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio if anything unforeseen arises. But his clearance for a return to work is the single most significant sign that Fox's surgery was a success that ensures a high quality of life, and that his coaching career can continue for as long as he desires.
"Obviously, they (the doctors) think he's healthy enough," said wide receiver Eric Decker. "He's going to come back. If they didn't think he was healthy enough, I don't think they would allow him back."
No formal restrictions will be placed on Fox's workload. And for the team, not much will change in the short run until Fox returns, as Del Rio noted.
"Really, you (are) just kind of staying in the day-to-day world that we exist in and week-to-week," he said. "We know right now that he is not going to travel with us, he's going to be here watching at home, and we need to take care of business."
But after Fox met with the team at the end of Thursday's practice, there is a little extra energy, knowing that things are slowly returning to normal, both for Fox and his team.
"To know that he's coming back next Monday, it was just kind of a rally point for us," Decker said.
Of course, to some, Fox was still around, which eases his transition back into a regular workload. He's been away from Dove Valley, but still engaged with the team.
"We've had a lot of conversations since he's been gone so I guess it's weird seeing him because I've talked to him so much over the last three, four weeks -- almost daily," Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase said.
"He tried to make sure he knew exactly what we were up to on offense because he always had a lot of input with us, a lot of conversation about how we wanted to attack the defense and he was always able to give us really good thoughts on how teams would approach us and we kind of missed that from him."