John Fox, Denver Broncos Head Coach, Scheduled for Aortic Valve Replacement

Since launching this website in 2006, I have followed the heart valve procedures of many public figures including Robin Williams, Barbara Walters, Ed Koch, and Barbara Bush.

Yesterday, we learned that John Fox, the head coach of the Denver Broncos, is scheduled for an aortic valve replacement surgery on Tuesday. Coach Fox, who was aware of his valvular disorder, was planning to undergo surgery during the football off-season.

John Fox - Denver Broncos Coach - Heart Surgery PatientJohn Fox, Denver Broncos Head Coach, Heart Valve Surgery Patient

However, on Saturday, Fox began experiencing symptoms while playing golf with his friends. Shortly thereafter, Fox was brought to a hospital, where an ultrasound revealed he needed aortic valve surgery as soon as possible. (So you know, the early news reports that Coach Fox had a heart attack were incorrect.)

The Importance of Symptoms for Patients

In my opinion, it is very important for the patients and the caregivers in our community to learn from Fox’s experience.

Coach Fox, who became “light-headed” during his golf outing, wasted no time seeking medical attention — and, for good reason.

Research suggests that 50% of patients who begin to experience symptoms from severe aortic valve stenosis are dead within just two years. Yes, that is a key and startling piece of information about this disease.

Aortic Stenosis Mortality Statistics

FYI… Similar to Fox, I also experienced just one symptom, prior to surgery, that motivated me to get another ultrasound. My symptom? The right side of my body went numb when I was out to dinner with my wife.

That said, I think we can all learn from Coach Fox’s proactive nature during his “watchful waiting” period. Last night, we heard from Coach Fox:

“I sincerely appreciate the support of the Broncos, the fans, and so many people around the league,” Fox said. “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.”

On behalf of the patients in our community, we wish Coach Fox a very safe procedure and a very smooth recovery.

Keep on tickin’ Coach Fox!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Diane J Brown

    Is it ever wise for an almost 80 year old man to have aortic valve repair? We’re so conflicted. My husband has COPD and emphysema. He had 2 spontaneous pneumothorax events; left 1969, right 1984 that required surgical repair creating scar tissue that we’ve been told would make either of the less invasive cardiac repairs impossible. Presumably left with cracking the chest as the only option, he’s being treated with Lasix. He has great strength in his arms and legs but much difficulty walking. After declining for years, and having several TIA’s found with CT scan, lots of physical therapy, it took a brace maker to notice that his right leg was 1 1/2 inches longer than his left. That professional lift built into his left shoe has. Said goodbye to the walker and even a cane most of the time. I think he just needs more PT to get his stride back. After all, it’s been years of stumbling! He is a totally uncomplaining energizer bunny! BTW, there are two other valves with small leakages, but on August 24 his pulmonary Doctor said he was in congestive heart failure and the aortic valve was the one just pumping away.
    Probably TMI, and I know you can’t ‘prescribe’ but I will be eternally grateful for any suggestions on where or what we could be looking for. Big hug for all you do, Diane J Brown,

  • Diane J Brown

    Prayers for all the best outcomes Coach Fox. My maiden name is Fox and there’s probably not even a remote chance for a connection, there is just something special about being a Fox!!!

  • Ricky (a female)

    Thank you Adam for your mention of Coach Fox. Living in Colorado……I am happy that
    you help to educate many who do not understand what cardiac surgery is all about.
    Here’s wishing him a speedy recovery,with few twists and turns……only good!!!!!
    PS……..He had his surgery done on Monday.
    The only thing I have not heard…….Did he get a mechanical valve?
    KEEP TICKIN COACH……Welcome to,”the zipper club”.

  • dcam

    Any idea what symptoms he experienced or was it only “light headedness”. I get light headed at time coming from a kneeling position to a stand up position quickly at times – at 5,000 ft.

  • dcam

    Any idea what symptoms he experienced or was it only \”light headedness\”. I get light headed at time coming from a kneeling position to a stand up position quickly at times – at 5,000 ft.

  • Leslie Lafayette

    Adam, it’s always good to hear from you and to read your newsletter. Thanks for all the good work you do! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Robin.

  • Judy Hatch

    I have aortic stenosis in the “moderate” range. I have repeatedly asked my cardiologist what type of symptoms I might experience that would alert me to the fact that the stenosis was progressing….no real satisfactory answer! When we hear about someone like the Coach it makes me wonder what symptoms HE was experiencing that precipitated this emergent incident. Had he just been ignoring the smaller symptoms? What were they? Would like to hear from other valve folks re: this question.

  • Marcia Bradley

    I am day 6 post-surgery for Aortic valve replacement and feeling quite well. I am wobbly and can take limited steps so far ( no need for a pedometer just now!) but sitting and lying down and sleeping very well. I am already able to lie on my side ( in a real bed) and am grateful for excellent care (Mass General Hospital in Boston MA).
    I had no symptoms for years ( had rheumatic fever as a child) but have been followed closely since I was in my 40’s. Most recent stress test last Feb. and echocardiogram in June, indicated I had moved into “severe” state. My only noticeable symptom was shortness of breath when walking on an incline. However, two friends mentioned that i looked “pale” from time to time – something I have never been. My cardiologist said it was time to do surgery – not to wait for a “tipping point” like congestive heart failure etc. I thank her for careful consideration – she always provided lots of information – led me to this website – and made sure I understood the risk of waiting ( as mentioned about – once symptoms show up, time before an event is limited!)
    I have found all the information here useful. I have needed some of the tips, but not all. Good luck to those trying to decide what to do – I am relieved to know I will only feel better and have many more years with my family.

  • Aliesha

    Just wanted to say this site is awesome! I do heart surgery in northern CO. I’m a RNFA, I take the vein out of the leg for CABG’s and assist with these and valve procedures.

    It’s nice to see such a great resource for families and patients! Keep up the great work!

  • Peter Willard

    what kind of valve did John Fox get a cow,pig or a mechanical?

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