Sunday Morning Blitz: John Fox to have heart surgery

Here’s what’s happening around the league as we prepare to kick off Week 9 in the NFL: (Which, BTW, WEEK 9 means we are now more than halfway through the 2013 regular season. *sad face*).

john-fox-looking2Broncos head coach John Fox hospitalized

Broncos head coach John Fox, who was hospitalized on Saturday after he felt light-headed playing golf  in Charlotte, NC, will undergo heart valve surgery that could cause him to miss up to two months of the season.

Sources have indicated that Fox knew he had a heart valve condition that doctors informed him would eventually require surgery. The plan was to undergo the surgery following the 2013 season.

The Broncos released a statement confirming that Fox was taken to the hospital, and tweeted early Sunday morning that Fox will  have aortic heart valve replacement surgery next week and will miss the next several weeks.

“I sincerely appreciate all of the support from friends, Denver Broncos fans and so many around the league today, ” Fox said in a statement. “Although I am disappointed I must take some time away from the team to attend to this pre-existing health condition, I understand that it’s the right thing to do.

“I have great confidence in our coaches and players, who are fully committed to our goals. I look forward to returning to coaching as soon as possible.”

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer tweeted that “Foxie” is still trying to determine who will be team’s interim head coach. It is expected  that defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will take over head coaching duties in Fox’s absence.

Jay Ratliff  joins Bears

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears and will sign a contract with the team next week. (He will not be eligible to play on Monday night in Green Bay).

Ratliff had met with the Bears, Chiefs and Dolphins earlier this week before deciding to sign in Chicago.

Despite being cut by the Cowboys earlier in the season due to concerns over the status of his hamstring, Ratliff has been medically cleared to play.

Dolphins Richie Incognito being investigated by NFLPA

The NFLPA is reviewing Dolphins offensive guard Richie Incognito’s role in the alleged harassment of teammate offensive tackle Jonathan Martin. Martin was recently excused from the team after suffering from emotional issues supposedly related to the incident being investigated. The team officially called the absence “non-injury related” and has not given a timetable for his return.

According to ESPN:

Union sources say the union will continue to conduct a thorough and detailed review that would extend to the team’s workplace environment and affected players, noting the juxtaposition that it represents all NFL players, including Martin and Incognito.

Sources say the NFLPA has information that proves Incognito is one of the main offenders of the alleged harassment.

The Dolphins released a statement on Sunday morning claiming that” the notion of bullying is based on speculation” adding that “reports that the NFLPA is investigating our players are inaccurate.”

Other news:

  • The Patriots have placed defensive tackle Tommy Kelly on IR with a knee injury. Kelly is the third defensive lineman the Patriots have lost to a season-ending injury (Wilfork and Mayo).
  • Saints LB Jonathan Vilma has been activated from the team’s short-term designated to return IR  (knee) and is eligible to play on Sunday vs. the Jets, where he played from 2004-2007.
  • Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovanni Bernard is not expected to miss much time with the rib injury he suffered in Thursday night’s loss to the Dolphins.
  • Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon has been suspended for the rest of the 2013 season. The suspension was announced Friday afternoon.
  • Men’s Journal Magazine offers a fascinating examination of the 2011 New York Jets – a team that collapsed in epic fashion following a hot 5-3 start – and the article is a compelling and rather damning examination of Mark Sanchez. Must read.

*PICKS: For those of you that like to bet and/or document my picks and predictions for later ridicule, here are my Week 9 picks:

KC > BUF, DAL > MIN, TEN > STL, NO > NYJ, WAH > SD, CAR > ATL, OAK > PHL,  SEA > TB, CLE > BAL, NE > PIT, INDY > HOU, GB > CHI.

Have a great Sunday and don’t forget to set your lineups.

Kristine Reese is the NFL editor for Aerys Sports. You can follow her on Twitter @KristineReese.

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