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Mike Smith can relate to health scares

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith made sure to send his thoughts out to fellow NFL head coaches Gary Kubiak and John Fox, both of whom experienced health scares over the past few days.

Smith had his own health issue following a Dec. 11, 2011, win over the Carolina Panthers. He felt chest pains, went to a hospital in Charlotte that Sunday, then returned to Atlanta early the next morning. He coached the following week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 54-year-old Smith never revealed the specifics of the incident, but it definitely heightened his awareness concerning his health.

"In terms of exercise and sleep regime, I think oftentimes what happens is we get sleep-deprived because of the hours that are spent in our preparation,’’ Smith said. "For me personally, it definitely forced me to change my lifestyle, and [I] had to make a number of changes.’’

Kubiak, 52, collapsed on the field at halftime of the Houston Texans-Indianapolis Colts game on Sunday night. Fox, whose Denver Broncos were on the bye week, was rushed to a hospital in Charlotte over the weekend after complaining of dizziness. Fox, 58, underwent a previously scheduled heart procedure Monday morning.

"I feel for Coach Kubiak and Coach Fox, and I hope they’re both going to be fine,’’ Smith said. "This is a business that you really get 16 opportunities. You’re limited in terms of how you’re evaluated. So, it is a stressful job.

"But in terms of me, I try to take it one step at a time, work through the day, do as much as you can, try to spend a little bit of time with your family, and then move on to the next day. But this is, obviously, a high-stress job.’’