John Fox has been an NFL head coach since the 2002 season. (John Leyba/Getty Images)
On Saturday evening, the Denver Broncos announced that head coach John Fox will undergo aortic valve replacement surgery and will miss at least the next several weeks. Fox had met with specialists in Charlotte, N.C. to determine if he needed the procedure immediately. He was advised by doctors to seek medical attention of he felt any discomfort. Fox felt light-headed on a local golf course and was hospitalized, at which time the decision was made to go forward with the procedure.
ESPN first reported that Fox was taken to a Charlotte hospital on Saturday with what was believed to be a heart attack . But Patrick Smyth, the team's Executive Director of Media Relations, said on Saturday afternoon via Twitter that he "talked to Coach Fox a few minutes ago. Did not have a heart attack. Is in good spirits and undergoing additional testing at hospital."
The Broncos said in an initial statement that Fox was hospitalized after feeling light-headed, and "is being held at the hospital for testing and further observation. Our medical staff is currently in contact with Coach Fox, his family and the doctors who are treating him. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”
That information became public a few hours later when the team issued the updated statement. The Broncos have yet to announce an interim head coach. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio served at the Jacksonville Jaguars' head coach from 2003 through '11. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase will also see increased responsibilities while Fox recovers.
“I sincerely appreciate all of the support from friends, Denver Broncos fans and so many around the league today," Fox said in his statement. “Although I am disappointed I must take some time away from the team to attend to this pre-existing health condition, I understand that it’s the right thing to do. I have great confidence in our coaches and players, who are fully committed to our goals.
"I look forward to returning to coaching as soon as possible.”
The 58-year-old Fox has been the Broncos' head coach since 2011. He is 28-12 during his time in Denver, including 7-1 this season. Fox coached the Carolina Panthers from 2002 through '10, taking the team to a Super Bowl at the end of the '03 season. Before his tenure with the Panthers, Fox was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants (1997-2001) and Los Angeles Raiders (1994-1995).
The Broncos are currently on their bye week.