Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak is resting comfortably at a Houston-area hospital on Monday after a harrowing experience on Sunday night.
With his team leading 21-3 over the Indianapolis Colts at halftime, Kubiak, who has coached the Texans since 2006, was heading off the field toward the locker room at Reliant Stadium when he suddenly dropped to his knees and collapsed.
Kubiak was attended to right away, led off the field on a stretcher. He was taken immediately to a hospital, where it was reported that he did not suffer from a heart attack.
Kubiak will undergo a battery of tests on Monday to determine exactly what caused his sudden collapse.
Texans’ defensive coordinator Wade Phillips took over interim head coaching duties, and the team would go on to lose to the Colts, 27-24.
It’s understandable that they lost—players were obviously shaken up and affected by the events at halftime.
"We were all very worried," quarterback Case Keenum said, according to The Associated Press (h/t USA Today). "When we went back out they told us he was ... stable. We were all upset about that but trying to stay focused at the same time."
It’s a little hard to stay focused when you’ve just witnessed your leader fallen and lying helplessly on the ground.
Kubiak’s collapse comes on the heels of another health scare involving an NFL head coach. John Fox, in his third season at the helm of the Denver Broncos, was taken to a North Carolina hospital on Saturday after suffering from dizzy spells while playing golf.
Fox will be undergoing surgery to replace an aortic heart valve on Tuesday and will likely be sidelined for at least six weeks.
It was a bye week for the Broncos, who have a 7-1 record and feature the most explosive offense in the NFL. An interim coach has yet to be named, although many assume that defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who coached the Jacksonville Jaguars for eight seasons, is the likely candidate.
With Fox and now Kubiak suffering from health issues, it calls to mind one thought—the job of an NFL head coach is extremely stressful.
Many coaches are known to work 15-18 hours a day, six or seven days a week during the regular season. That takes a toll on anyone, but especially in the NFL where the demand for excellence is paramount.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said it best:
Take note of Herbsteit’s hashtag at the end of his tweet. Yes, it’s just a game, but for the players and coaches of the NFL, it’s about much more than a game. So much so that players risk lifelong pain from injuries, and coaches completely sacrifice the simple act of taking care of themselves in order to win.
If it really were just a game, we wouldn’t be seeing coaches sprawled out on the floor of a stadium suffering from symptoms that are likely the result of not properly taking care of themselves.
If it really were just a game, Fox wouldn’t have ignored the early warning signs that his body was sending him with regard to his heart issues.
If it really were just a game, the NFL and the Players’ Union wouldn’t be embroiled in a heated lawsuit over compensation for concussions suffered during players’ careers.
The NFL is far more than just a game, and coaches are suffering as much as players.
In the end, Fox will likely recover and return to the sidelines once again, quite possibly in time to lead the Broncos into the playoffs. And Kubiak, depending on his diagnosis, will likely return as well. Neither of them are going to have an epiphany and walk away from the game to focus on their health.
Both Kubiak and Fox will go on doing what they’ve been doing, and whether or not they learn a lesson from their frightful experiences will become secondary.
Because the NFL isn’t just a game.