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Stroke to Super Bowl: Gary Kubiak grateful for second shot

By Rick Tracewell, The Sports Xchange   |   Feb. 4, 2016 at 1:14 AM
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- First-year Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak has a career that already would be the envy of his peers.

Successful at every level of the game, from player (three AFC championships) to coach (four AFC championships and three Super Bowl championships), Kubiak is valuable wherever he takes a job.

His professional success notwithstanding, Kubiak has not been without personal challenges. He suffered a mini-stroke and collapsed while walking off the field at halftime during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium in Houston in 2013. He was the Texans' head coach at the time.

After a litany of tests, it was determined that Kubiak had a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or a "mini-stroke" as it is often called.

Most TIAs, according to the American Stroke Association, last about a minute and no longer than five. They don't typically cause permanent brain damage or other loss of motor function, but they lead to a higher probability of future strokes. Within a year of a TIA, one-third suffer a stroke.

The incredible physical and mental requirements required of a modern-day NFL head coach are well-known and the toll it can take can be costly. But Kubiak has learned to lessen the stresses by delegating more and managing the pressures better.

"(I) kind of ran myself into the ground a little bit," Kubiak said. "I've tried to do things different. I still -- I mean, I love the work, so I'm going to be up early in the morning working the hours, but I've also tried to go about it a little bit of (a) different way -- not try to take on everything myself and understand I've got good people with me."

After the 2013 season, Kubiak was fired by Houston and then bounced back with a good season as offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens under coach John Harbaugh.

When Kubiak's old friend and former teammate John Elway, now GM of the Denver Broncos, fired John Fox as his head coach, Kubiak got the call. Elway wanted him to take over the Broncos.

Fast forward to the end of his first season as the head coach of a team that he played for and coached to great successes and he's back in the Super Bowl.

" ... I just feel fortunate that I have gotten another chance -- a lot of coaches don't," Kubiak said.

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