Arizona Cardinals' Bruce Arians knows stress of NFL head coach

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

Bruce Arians knows all too well about the toll that coaching takes on the body.

The Arizona Cardinals coach won the Coach of the Year award last season when he became the interim coach of the Indianapolis Colts as Chuck Pagano was recovering from leukemia. He had his own health scare during the playoffs. Plus, during mini-camp with the Cardinals, Arians' new quarterback coach, Freddie Kitchens, was sidelined by a rare heart disease.

Arians, who is in his first season as a head coach, talked about the pitfalls of the job with NFL Media's Andrea Kremer during Tuesday's edition of NFL Network's "NFL Total Access."

"It scares you for your family because your family goes through a really, really rough time when these things happen," he said of health scares of coaches. "Coaches wives are special breeds as it is, but to have lukeumia, a heart valve issue, a possible stroke. ...

"We just went through this on our staff with Freddie Kitchens in the spring. ... Coaches have to have physicals at least once a year or twice a year."

Earlier Tuesday, Denver Broncos coach John Fox underwent a successful aortic heart valve replacement after spending a few days during the team's bye week in Charlotte. And Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak was released from a Texas hospital after suffering a mini-stroke Sunday night at halftime of the game against the Indianapolis colts.

With Jack Del Rio moving into the interim head coach position for the Broncos, Arians knows what he will experience. Arians said the former Jacksonville Jaguars coach should continue to do his defensive coordinator job and do it at high level.

"Then make a little time for the head coaching duties, because at this point and time your whole job is keeping a seat warm until your man gets back," Arians said. "You have to keep the players abreast every day of how your head coach is getting better.

"In his messages to the team, always keep that focus that (Fox) is the head coach and you're just keeping the seat warm."

Arians himself was hospitalized right before the playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens in January after what was later diagnosed as an inner ear virus. He said the impact of that illness was "huge."

"I've never had anything like that," he said. "I was sitting there eating a pre-game meal and the room started spinning. I'm one of those guys who gets motion sickness extremely easily.

"The vertigo caused a bunch of other blood pressure reactions and actually the doctors that were on hand thought that I was having a stroke. I went to the University of Maryland hospital and the good thing came out is that they said I had arteries like I was 35 years old."

Arians, who had gone back to his duties as the Colts' offensive coordinator when Pagano returned late in the season, said the health scare affected the team because different coaches were calling the plays.

"It was really hard for me because the doctors let me watch the game on television," he said. "I don't know how that was going to help my blood pressure."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.