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Broncos’ Fox back after valve surgery

Fox

– Denver Broncos coach John Fox returned to work Monday, four weeks after open-heart surgery, his newfound energy matching his renowned enthusiasm.

“I feel tremendous. As my surgeon said, I had a valve that was the size of a pinhead and now it’s the size of a 50-cent piece,” Fox said. “Obviously, the doctors feel good about me getting back to work. I actually would have preferred to be back sooner, but there was a pretty hard deadline of four weeks post-surgery, and I honored that and here I am.”

Truth is, Fox has been telecommuting for weeks.

As soon as he was released from the hospital after having his aortic valve repaired, a surgery he had hoped to put off until after the Super Bowl, Fox set up a sort of command center at his offseason home in Charlotte, N.C., some 200 yards from the spot on the golf course where he fell ill Nov. 2 during the Broncos’ bye.

Not only was Fox in daily contact with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who guided the Broncos (10-2) to three wins in four games during in Fox’s absence, but Fox was also in constant communication with his captains, including quarterback Peyton Manning, over the toughest stretch of Denver’s season.

Fox kept track of his team on his big-screen TV on game days and on his iPad playbook, watching cut-ups of practices and helping to formulate game plans.

“Other than that I was in another state, (it was) much the same as what I would have done in my office at Dove Valley,” Fox said.

“I want to be careful how I say that. I was involved, just like everybody in this building is involved. Like I said, it’s not one guy. It’s a team. And it’s a lot of people doing their job. As I mentioned before, it’s a tribute to the staff and the players that did a tremendous job as I went on the longest bye week in history.”

Fox and his wife, Robin, flew home on team owner Pat Bowlen’s jet Wednesday, and at Del Rio’s suggestion he visited with the team Thanksgiving morning, then watched from his home in Denver as the Broncos beat the Chiefs 35-28 Sunday at Kansas City to take charge of the AFC West.

On Monday, Fox drove into work and was greeted by hugs and handshakes.

“He stood up there in front of us in the team meeting and told us he feels better than ever,” tight end Joel Dreessen said.

Fox is sure yet whether he’ll coach from the booth or the sideline Sunday when the Broncos play host to Tennessee (5-7).

“I’m going to see how I feel. I haven’t been to a practice yet. But it won’t make a big difference. I’m in communication with everybody whether they’re in the press box or on the field,” Fox said.

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