Following his team’s loss Sunday to the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak left Sports Authority Field at Mile High in an ambulance after he suffered from what the team called flu-like symptoms.
Kubiak, who had a health episode in 2013 in which he collapsed on the field at halftime as the head coach of the Houston Texans, was taken to a local hospital Sunday evening for further evaluation.
The Broncos had just suffered their first loss of the season – and first loss since December 20 of last year – when Kubiak addressed the team at his postgame meeting in the locker room. He then met with the media.
Less than 30 minutes after Kubiak’s news conference, the situation outside the Broncos’ locker room got chaotic. Security blocked off hallways so that an ambulance could maneuver to near the coaches’ room. The ambulance started to leave out the stadium’s south side players’ entrance with Kubiak’s wife Rhonda sitting in the front seat.
Shortly after the ambulance left, the Kubiak’s three sons – Klint, Klay and Klein – walked out of the locker room and picked up their dad’s truck that was parked inside the stadium tunnel near the locker room, and drove off.
Kubiak, 55, was coaching the Texans in a game against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 3, 2013 when he collapsed as he was attempting to walk from his sideline to the locker room at halftime.
He was taken by ambulance to a hospital with what doctors later diagnosed as a transient ischmetic attack, which in layman’s terms is often referred to as a mini-stroke.
Kubiak missed one game, then returned to coach the Texans from the press box two weeks after his episode. He wound up coaching from the sideline before he was fired on Dec. 6 after his Texans had suffered their 11th consecutive loss.
In 2014, Kubiak caught on with the Baltimore Ravens as their offensive coordinator. After that season, he accepted the Broncos’ head coaching position that was offered by his close friend and former teammate John Elway, who is the team’s general manager.
At his introductory news conference on January 20, 2015, Kubiak was asked about his collapse on the field 14 months earlier.
“That was a scary time. I was talking to John about this the other day, I probably ran myself into the ground a little bit,’’ Kubiak said. “I think I learned a lot from that. I’m doing great, I’m feeling fine. Hopefully I look OK. But I’m doing fine, I worked through that.
“I think it’s like anything else, you’re giving something everything you have and that was a tough season, tough situation and I was going to keep swinging.
“Like I said, I probably just ran myself down a little bit too much but I’ve come back from it. Everybody tells me I’m doing just fine. I took a big physical this past week so I’m ready to go. I’m good.”
In his first season of 2015, Kubiak led the Broncos to a 12-4 regular-season record and the Super Bowl championship despite weekly uncertainty as to whether Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler would be his quarterback.
The Broncos were 4-0 this season when Kubiak had to replace starting quarterback Trevor Siemian with rookie Paxton Lynch this week. Lynch was roughed up for six sacks but played well late before he and the Broncos lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 23-16, here Sunday.
Kubiak became the Broncos’ head coach after Elway and John Fox mutually agreed to part ways following the 2014 season. The Broncos finished with a 12-4 record but lost their first playoff game in the second round.
Fox also had a health episode during the 2013 season. He needed heart valve replacement surgery that forced him to miss four games that season. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio served as the Broncos’ interim head coach and led his team to a 3-1 record.
Will Kubiak have to miss time? That this medical emergency has occurred for a second time in three years has to set off alarms. The schedule won’t give him much time to recover – the Broncos play Thursday night in San Diego.
If the Broncos’ medical team insists Kubiak not coach that game, the team would be expected to select either offensive coordinator Rick Dennison or defensive coordinator Wade Phillips as interim head coach.