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Stress Of A Head Coach

Posted Nov 4, 2013

Notebook: Recent maladies highlight stress of profession; Cards add TE Ballard

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians (right) has a post-game handshake with Broncos coach John Fox following the team's preseason game in August. Fox is sidelined for several weeks now that he needs heart surgery.

When Bruce Arians was a head coach at Temple University at the outset of his career, he was suffering from multiple migraine headaches by his final season there.

“The day I got fired I never had another migraine,” the Cardinals’ coach said Monday. “I know what stress can do to you.”

It was an NFL weekend that put the hard lifestyle on display. Broncos coach John Fox was hospitalized on his bye weekend and will miss several weeks after having surgery to replace a heart valve, while Texans coach Gary Kubiak was taken in an ambulance to the hospital Sunday night after collapsing at halftime of his team’s game against Indianapolis.

Fox will be replaced with Jack Del Rio, while Kubiak’s situation – the Cardinals host Houston Sunday – remains an unknown after defensive coordinator Wade Phillips took over for the second half of the Colts game. Arians has first-hand knowledge of dealing with such situations, after he took over as interim head coach in Indianapolis last year when Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and helped lead the Colts to the playoffs.

“It’s not a full-time job,” Arians said. “It’s a keep-the-seat-warm type of thing, which is a good feeling for an assistant because you know your guy is coming back, and hopefully Gary will be back.”

Arians keep everything status quo in Indianapolis last year, which helped the Colts. Kubiak’s absence seemed to affect the Texans Sunday night, especially as Houston’s play caller.

“(Losing a coach) can probably go both ways, especially if the leadership is not in the locker room,” said cornerback Jerraud Powers, who played for Indianapolis under the Pagano/Arians transition last year. “I could see where a team would fall off to the negative side because they aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing. But if the leaders are in place, they will use it as a motivation tool.”

Del Rio said in his Monday press conference he wanted to reach out to Arians to talk about what it was like for Arians. That hadn’t happened by the time Arians spoke Monday, and Arians – while open to it – said it wasn’t necessary.

“He doesn’t need any advice,” Arians said. “The biggest thing I learned during that was just do my job.”

Arians said one of the best things to do for a coach is to make sure he is exercising, although just taking 30 or 40 minutes to do so is difficult because a coach feels like he is hurting the team because he isn’t working. But an inability to stay healthy is something else that would hurt the team.

“You have to learn to deal with it and live with it,” Arians said, “because it’s a big part of the job.”

ADDING A TIGHT END

The Cardinals agreed to terms with veteran tight end Jake Ballard on a one-year contract Monday, cutting seventh-round draft pick D.C. Jefferson in the process. Ballard tore his ACL at the end of the 2011 season and hasn’t played in a regular-season game since. The Cardinals brought him in for a workout out a couple of weeks ago.

“We really like what we saw as far as a veteran player at that position,” Arians said.

“We’ll get him in here and get him taught – don’t know if we’ll throw him to the wolves right off the bat,” Arians added.

The Cards also lost wide receiver Kerry Taylor from the practice squad, after Taylor signed with Jacksonville.

MENDENHALL BACK AT PRACTICE

Because it was a “bonus” practice thanks to the bye weekend, the Cardinals did not put out an injury report Monday, but Arians said everyone was pretty healthy aside from wide receiver Brittan Golden, who continues to deal with a sore hamstring.

Back on the field was running back Rashard Mendenhall, who had been dealing with a bad toe. “Rashard looked very, very good today and it was nice to see him running like that again,” Arians said.

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