As if Denver Broncos head coach John Fox didn't have enough reasons to hope for a Super Bowl XLVIII victory, details of his contract with the team reveal a million more.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Fox will receive a $1 million bonus if Denver defeats the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, a provision that has been locked into his contract since he signed a four-year deal in 2011.
Fox, 58, is 34-14 during the regular season with the Broncos and has led them to the playoffs in each of his three seasons. Denver has received the AFC's No. 1 seed with consecutive 13-3 regular-season records since acquiring Peyton Manning.
The 2013 season was a banner year for the Broncos and for Manning, as the team set an NFL record with 606 points and Manning set single-season passing touchdown (55) and yardage (5,477) marks. This is the second time Fox has led a team to the Super Bowl, the first being a Super Bowl XXXVIII loss to the New England Patriots.
In 12 seasons as an NFL coach with Carolina and Denver, Fox has a 107-85 record and six playoff appearances. Long respected for his steady hand and intelligence on the defensive side, the potential for the biggest triumph of Fox's career comes in a season where he had quite the personal scare.
Fox underwent aortic valve replacement surgery in November after experiencing discomfort during Denver's bye week. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio took over as the interim coach for four weeks before Fox returned on Dec. 2 for the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs.
Fox, ever the head coach, compared his absence to an ankle sprain earlier this week in a session with the media, per Don Ruiz of The News Tribune:
Really, it was like a sprained ankle. It was going to be four weeks (of rehabilitation). There were some things I had to do. Obviously, there was a little healing process. … I was back to work on a Monday, four weeks post-op from open-heart surgery. I felt 150 percent better. I had a valve that was probably the opening the size of a pinhead; now, it’s a 50-cent piece. Just from a feeling good standpoint, I feel way, way, way better than I did two months ago.
Regardless of Sunday's result, it's highly likely that Fox won't be hurting for cash anytime soon. Schefter's report also notes that the Broncos and Fox hope to reach a contract extension after the season ends. Fox is under contract for the 2014 season, but teams typically like to sign extensions with coaches they plan to keep around to avoid "lame duck" status.
NFL.com's Dan Hanzus indicated that Fox shouldn't have any problems with health either, invoking Mad Men's Roger Sterling as a comparison:
John Fox is looking slim. Has a Roger Sterling vibe about him post-surgery.— Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) January 26, 2014
Who will win Super Bowl XLVIII
What the future holds for these Broncos is another question entirely. Peyton Manning's plans after this week were an overwhelming topic of discussion with media types, and until the NFL MVP knows whether he's healthy enough to return for 2014, the franchise will be in a state of uncertainty. Beyond Manning, Denver also has high-profile free agents like cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and wide receiver Eric Decker who could bolt.
Like with Fox, though, it's all about completing the task at hand. The Broncos constructed this roster with a window of Super Bowl contention that coincides with the twilight of Manning's career. If they can pull it off, Fox should have a nice chunk of change to go with his more important hardware.
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