Professional football is officially back on Thursday, and one head coach is already showing some grit.
All the world has been salivating to get a taste of NFL action for months now, and with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, Aug. 1, the time has come to officially wave goodbye to the offseason. This year’s opening preseason contest will feature a battle between the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons, and Vic Fangio will apparently be present and accounted for when things kick off at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio at 8 p.m. ET.
This is despite having been hospitalized earlier in the day for kidney stones — according to Adam Schefter of ESPN — that reportedly haven’t passed yet. This report has since been confirmed by Broncos vice president of public and community relations Patrick Smythe, who added that Fangio still plans to coach in tonight’s game.
Fangio, who joined the Broncos in 2019 as the successor to a fired Vance Joseph, has worked this offseason to revamp a team that stumbled consistently en route to a 6-10 finish last season, which ended up being only one win better than their 5-11 finish from 2017. With the acquisition of quarterback Joe Flacco by way of a trade with the Baltimore Ravens, and several other moves that include an — released by the Detroit Lions on July 27 — there’s a lot of pressure on Fangio to get things turned around quickly.
The 60-year-old brings a mountain of experience, his coaching resume going as far back as 1979, when he was a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for Dunmore High School in Pennsylvania. Since then, Fangio has had stints at both the collegiate and pro level as well, and the latter includes stretches with the New Orleans Saints and seven other NFL teams before landing with the Broncos.
Few things get players as fired up as a coach willing to walk it like he talks it, and in a league where athletes are routinely — albeit never directly — asked to play through pain, Fangio is proving he’s willing to do the same.