Save Money in this Sunday's paper

comments

Charlotte friends root for John Fox after heart surgery and in Super Bowl

The day before Denver Broncos coach John Fox’s open-heart surgery, Carolina Panthers running backs coach Jim Skipper – an assistant for all nine years of Fox’s Carolina tenure – stopped by Fox’s hospital room.

Fox was blowing into a tube that measured his heart and lung capacity.

“The doctor said as soon as I can blow this thing up to a certain (level), I can get out of here,” Fox told Skipper. “So I’m practicing.”

Skipper was skeptical.

“I’m saying to myself, ‘You’re not going to coach this year. You’re going to be lucky to coach at all,’ ” Skipper said.

But with Fox’s wife, Robin, serving as his nursemaid – Fox’s term – he slowly returned to health.

Sunday, Fox’s Broncos face Seattle in the Super Bowl, concluding a season in which a bye week trip to Charlotte turned into nearly a month of convalescing at his Quail Hollow home. He had surgery on Nov. 4 to correct bicuspid aortic valve disease, a congenital condition in which the valve has two flaps instead of three.

“It was one of those things where it was going to have to get fixed at some point,” he said at a Super Bowl news conference. “If it hadn’t happened an emergency type of way about nine weeks ago, I’d be looking at having that next week.”

In the days after the surgery, Robin managed Fox’s medication and made sure he was rested.

“It was just John and I for those weeks. I would not let anybody come in,” Robin wrote last week in a piece for SI.com. “We had signs on the doors saying not to bother him, because I really wanted him to get his rest so he could get back in the shortest amount of time his body could handle. I knew that if people kept coming and going, that was going to prolong it.”

Fox’s children visited during his recovery, but friends and neighbors tried not to disturb him.

Felix Sabates, a Charlotte businessman and part-owner of a NASCAR team who has been friends with Fox for years, told Fox about the property Fox bought and built on along Quail Hollow’s No. 14, the hole Fox was playing when he started having trouble breathing on Nov. 2.

After Fox’s surgery, Sabates jokingly sent him a text asking him to join him for a drink and a cheeseburger.

“He said that’s what almost killed him,” said Sabates, who pointed out Fox’s condition was not lifestyle-related.

“John has never met a stranger,” Sabates added. “Some people would come by in the backyard playing golf, and he’d go talk to them. He’s a nice man.”

Skipper sent Fox a text wishing him luck the night before the AFC Championship Game, and planned to do the same Saturday. He has friends on the Denver and Seattle coaching staffs but knows what he will do Sunday.

“I’m rooting for Foxy,” Skipper said. “I don’t know who’s going to win. But I’m rooting for him.”

Person: 704-358-5123
Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases
CharlotteObserver.com