Living well is indeed the best revenge. And for John Fox, a win over the Denver Broncos next Sunday to reach .500 for the first time in 2015 would be part of living well, and by extension, the best revenge, if Fox needed any of it with respect to John Elway and the Broncos. Which he probably doesn’t but…
The New York Jets were the next game on the schedule for Rex Ryan as coach of the Buffalo Bills, too.
Fox’s departure from Denver was ostensibly by mutual agreement; after all, the press release said so. But head coaches don’t usually leave billets where they’ve taken a team to four straight playoff appearances, including one with Tim Tebow at quarterback, and on the heels of a 12-4 season, which the Broncos were last year.
The underlying real story was that Fox and John Elway, now Broncos general manager and executive vice president of football operations, did simply disagree on certain personnel decisions and ultimately over what reaching the highest level in the NFL entailed, although both men had reached more than one Super Bowl in their careers to that point.
And Elway said he was unhappy that the Broncos did not exit the playoffs “kicking and screaming’’ the last two seasons, which ended with a Super Bowl blowout loss to Seattle in 2013 and a loss to the Indianapolis Colts in last year’s divisional round.
Elway’s disappointing took the form of de facto questioning how Fox had the Broncos primed for those losses.
"It’s disappointing that we didn’t have more fire,” Elway said in a news conference. “I don’t know why we didn’t have more fire.’’
Meaning: Any split where one side questions and finally rejects the other’s ways may not be overtly hostile, but entirely amicable? Not impossible, but that would be an anomaly, with Elway not convinced of Fox’s intensity and coaching style in situations where Elway favored a more wide-open, go-for-it style.
“I think the biggest miss between us was how we can take that next step and what is was going to take to get to that next step,” Elway said after the conclusion of the 2014 season. “I think that's where that disagreement came from."
Players in the time after Sunday’s win over the St. Louis Rams already were talking privately about wanting to get the Denver game for Fox. It is not his style to foment thoughts of vindication or revenge, but the Denver Broncos will not be completely just another game to everyone on the Chicago sideline.
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“Well, you know, the familiarity and all of that, when you’ve been doing this for 26 years, you kind of run into a lot of people you know,” Fox said, then laughed. “When you’re with your eighth team, you end up playing your ex-team a bunch.
“I think everybody has that maybe the first time, whether you’re a player or a coach. I feel for the people who have got to play against family. You know, that’s the ultimate of really knowing somebody. I think that becomes maybe the hardest thing to do. But a lot of close friends there, a lot of people I have shared some great moments with. But it’s the next team on the schedule.”
That's his story and he's stickin' to it.