John Fox unplugged, seriously

Carolina fans, if you want to see something pretty ironic, hop over to the Denver Broncos’ official website. Right on the front page, you’ll see (and hear) a side of John Fox that you never really got when he was coaching the Panthers.

He’s interviewing with the Broncos, who are taking a cutting-edge approach by making their coaching search very public. This is only funny on about 47 different levels and about 46 of them are because Fox was so guarded with the media in his Carolina days. In the opening clip from Wednesday’s interview in Denver, I’m pretty sure Fox took longer to answer one question than most of his news conferences took in Charlotte.

Fox used to frustrate the heck out of the Carolina media (and fans) with his short answers or non-answers. It didn’t have to be that way because Fox is a gregarious guy, who would carry on a conversation as soon as the cameras and microphones were turned off. But he always was very careful with what he said because he didn’t want to provide other teams with bulletin-board material or run the risk of criticizing his own players.

Heck, I remember one time, in my newspaper days, when Fox refused to reveal what flavor gum he chewed. I think it was during Carolina’s Super Bowl run in 2003. When a team is making a Super Bowl run, the news-side people at a newspaper suddenly realize there is a football team in town and they tend to bomb beat writers with story suggestions. Somebody came up with the bright idea to do a story on how Fox constantly was chewing gum on the sideline during games.

A good friend and former co-worker I’ll call “Stan’’ drew the assignment of having to ask Fox what kind of gum he chewed. Knowing there was absolutely no way he’d get an answer out of Fox in front of the cameras and microphones, Stan used his always-sharp instincts and waited to ask Fox as we walked back toward his office.

As we approached the door where Fox entered, Stan broke from the media pack and did his duty. The rest of the media kept walking, but we all could loudly hear Fox laughing and, then, answering, Stan’s question.

“Oh, come on, Stan,’’ Fox said. “I’m not touching that one. The world doesn’t need to know that.’’

It was a great effort by Stan and I bet he could have gotten that question answered in Denver if he had been there Wednesday. Fox was open and talkative. In other words, he was the real John Fox. Could this be the start of something new?

I seriously doubt it. As you just saw in the video there’s a fun side to Fox. I saw it many times when he wasn’t on the record. I genuinely like Fox and think he’s a good coach. But, deep down, he’s a football coach more than anything else.

I’ll make a prediction right now: If Fox gets the Denver job, the first time the media asks him about an injured player, his response will be “He’s day to day."