DENVER - With high spirits and an energetic sense of humor, Denver Broncos Head Coach John Fox returned to work Monday following recovery from heart surgery.
"I'm doing great, happy to be back," he said at the kickoff of his first in-person press conference following the surgery.
Fox underwent heart valve replacement surgery in Charlotte, N.C., and had been recovering at his Charlotte home. He returned to Colorado last Wednesday.
He explained that doctors told him the old valve was about the size of a pin head, but was now about the size of a 50-cent piece following the surgery. As a result, he said he feels "tremendous" and actually wanted to return sooner.
The coach said the hardest part of his four weeks of bed rest and recovery was watching the team from a distance. He praised the work of interim head coach Jack Del Rio for taking the reins temporarily and the rest of the staff and team for coming together to fill the gap.
"They went about business as usual and did a great job in a very tough third quarter of our season," Fox said.
Fox also took a moment to specifically thank his wife, Robin.
"I think she was the most happy person today that I drove off to work, having nursemaided me for four weeks today," he said. "Robin Fox, my lovely and great wife."
Fox was on a golf course, during the bye week, near his off-season Charlotte home when he began to feel lightheaded. He described incomplete memories of taking a chip shot and a putt before lying down on the ground to fight off the feeling that he was going to pass out.
He told reporters Monday, "As I was laying on the 14th green I did say a short prayer that, 'God, you get me out of this and I'll get it fixed now.'"
-- Fox's condition--
The issue, he explained, was a bicuspid aortic valve that was first diagnosed in 1997. Where normal people usually have three flaps, Fox has two.
"This is basically something I was born with that needed to be fixed," Fox said.
The valve was well monitored for years, Fox said, but he had thought surgery could be delayed until after this season. When he was taken to the hospital in North Carolina, however, they found that the valve was "almost completely closed."
Fox repeatedly clarified that the defect was not brought on by job-related stress.
"I'm feeling much better now," said Fox.