JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Urban Meyer is older and wiser, which he thinks should help keep him healthier as he tries to flip one of the NFL’s worst franchises.
Meyer’s health problems as head coach in Florida and the state of Ohio, compounded by the stress of executing important programs and the immense pressure he put on himself to win, forced him to retire from the game . However, the new head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars says he has learned from these experiences and a new approach will help him avoid further problems.
Not that losing still isn’t immensely bothering.
“If you ask me if I would like to lose, we all know the answer,” said Meyer on Friday. “I’m older. It’s something I’ll be very conscientious about. It’s something I’ll watch very closely. I’ll be the head coach, but I’ll hire great coaches who will be.” I’m not going to walk around the practice field like a nut. Those days are over.
“I know how it should look and I want to be very demanding of everyone. I will watch that very closely.”
Meyer, 56, was diagnosed with esophageal spasms in January 2010, which was causing the severe chest pain he was experiencing, and was sent to hospital the night after the 2009 SEC championship game. He began taking medication, made significant lifestyle changes, took a brief leave of absence, and finally resumed coaching in Florida at the start of spring training in March 2010. A day after the Gators’ last regular season game in 2010 – a 31-7 defeat in Florida state – Meyer announced that he would be stepping down for good and that his last game would be the Outback Bowl.
Meyer took the job in the state of Ohio in November 2011 and over the next few years had a severe headache related to a persistent problem with a congenital arachnoid cyst in his brain discovered in 1998 as an assistant at Notre Dame. He had an operation in 2014 to drain some of the fluid bound to the cyst, and that helped for a while.
The severe headache returned, however, and he was brought to his knees during a game against Indiana in 2018. Meyer finally announced on December 4, 2018 that he was retiring from coaching for health reasons after the Rose Bowl this season.
Now he’s back in the game, this time at the highest level, tasked with fixing a franchise that has lost ten or more games nine times in the past 10 years. Owner Shad Khan is using a coach-centric model, which means Meyer will contribute to the hiring of the general manager, and Khan is letting Meyer do a complete re-evaluation of the organization.
First a staff is put together – Meyer called the next week a “critical time for the Jacksonville Jaguars organization” – and then the current list is assessed and the preparation for the free agency and draft is prepared.
Ryan Stamper, an Ohio state assistant sports director who has twice captioned Urban Meyer as a player at the University of Florida, is joining Meyer’s staff as director of player rating, a source said to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Stamper spent nine years in the state of Ohio, and Jacksonville is his hometown.
Coaching in the NFL is challenging even in the off-season, especially if you want to make significant changes while learning how things work. That’s why questions about Meyer’s health and whether his body is better at handling stress than in Florida and the state of Ohio persist as long as he works out. But he said he had consulted with his family, doctors, colleagues and friends and believed he had found an approach that would enable him to stay healthy.
“I’m very curious about prevention [approach he can take]and I looked at that very carefully, “said Meyer.” I am talking about the headache issues that I have dealt with. I’ll take a close look at that. I had long, detailed discussions with people who helped me with this [as well as] Doctors who are very close to me. “
As for his family, who hadn’t shied away from sharing health concerns at his other coaching stations, Meyer said they were on board with his decision to get back into coaching.
“We talked intensively and they are all-in,” said Meyer about Ms. Shelley, the daughters Gigi and Nicki and the son Nate. “They all have their Jaguar T-shirts. They are all adults now. That’s the biggest difference. To me that’s a huge difference. They don’t miss that much. The difference is that I have two grandchildren that I plan on commuting as much as possible, this is very important to me, but most of my marriage is the essence.
“So they’re all in and now they’re all Duval.”
Meyer’s attitude has already had an impact on the sale of the Jaguars’ season tickets. Chad Johnson, senior vice president of sales and service and chief content officer for the team, said half of the total deposits for season tickets were received on the Thursday after Meyer’s hiring (this was announced at 6:42 p.m. ET) at that time Year eight times ahead of last year’s pace.