Mike Smith’s health is story again, whether he likes it or not (UPDATED)

Mike Smith may undergo more tests, accoring to report. (AP photo)

Mike Smith may undergo more tests, accoring to report. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 10:30 a.m.)

Mike Smith hates being the story.

There have been several times when I’ve spoken to him about how well the Falcons were playing, and he would respond, “This story is about the players.” Last week when we sat for a 30-minute chat about the team’s seeming lack of focus this season and how he was dealing with it, he asked just before I walked out of his office, “You’re not writing this column about me, are you?”

But it’s game night tonight against Jacksonville and Mike Smith is the story. Last Sunday night, he was taken off the team’s plane at a Charlotte airport because of chest pains (which he and team officials have since tried to play down). Now there is a report from former AJC comrade Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange that Smith, after suffering from “persistent chest-related discomfort,” likely will undergo precautionary tests as early as Friday.

UPDATE: The Falcons have confirmed that Smith has a followup appointment with doctors Friday, but say it was an appointment previously scheduled from when he was in the hospital in Charlotte late Sunday and early Monday. Smith insists that he feels fine. His appointment is expected to be at Emory Hospital.

Hopefully, Smith is OK. It’s easy to understand his concern in being “the story,” especially with only three games left in the regular season. He doesn’t want to become a distraction in a playoff race.

But Smith has to understand people aren’t going to quickly dismiss this as a case of indigestion, because logic tells us if that’s all it was, he wouldn’t have been taken off an airplane last Sunday night. The Falcons play tonight on the NFL Network, and there’s a good chance commentators are going to spend a fair amount of time talking about the Falcons’ head coach. In the big picture, that’s the last thing Smith should be worried about.

By Jeff Schultz

88 comments Add your comment

zgoldatl

December 15th, 2011
9:38 am

I hope Coach Smith is alright. Prayers are with you Smitty.
Rise Up tonight and take care of business. See y’all in section 301

Danny O

December 15th, 2011
9:38 am

Feel better soon Coach Smith!

DP

December 15th, 2011
9:39 am

Sounds like he shouldn’t be coaching tonight or anytime until they’ve pinned down whatever is causing the chest pains and dealt with it.

DirtybirdATL

December 15th, 2011
9:44 am

I honestly think if team doctors thought this was serious, he wouldn’t be coaching, but he’ll be under close supervision throught the game, pray it isn’t anything serious! Rise Up!

dean

December 15th, 2011
9:45 am

I already asked at DLed’s blog, who is in charge if Coach has to take some time off? There is no official Assistant Head Coach.

Jeff Schultz

December 15th, 2011
9:52 am

Dean — It’s obviously early to speculate on something like this. Generally speaking it’s either a coordinator (Mularkey, VanGorder) or a “veteran” type coach on the staff — somebody like receivers coach Terry Robiskie, who has been an interim coach twice before in Washington and Cleveland.

Sonny Clusters

December 15th, 2011
10:00 am

Coach Blank is roaming the sidelines. We think he will be in charge.

Nicker

December 15th, 2011
10:00 am

Coach Smith:
We need you around man!
No game is worth the BIG ONE!
Get yourself well TODAY!
Birds will do ok.
Get fixed up NOW
Your family needs you and so do your fans.

Sonny Clusters

December 15th, 2011
10:00 am

Give him a Blank Check.

Sonny Clusters

December 15th, 2011
10:02 am

We’re drawing a Blank here but if we was going to fill in the Blank we’d let Coach Blank run the team for a few games. All that sideline hugging reminds us of the Braves and what happened to them last season – it certainly left a Blank in their team legacy.

schwartz

December 15th, 2011
10:02 am

question for you Jeff?
Why the statement “some clarity would be nice?”
Why do sports writers feel that they deserve to know everything?
This is a private health matter.
Do you question the pilot of your plane if he is in good health and demand a clear and precise condition report on them before you fly? If they are not healthy your life is at risk.
If Mike Smith is not healthy how does that affect this game?
You think the Falcons should break the law and disclose private health information so you and your fans can have an excuse if they lose, some one to blame if they lose or somebody to cheer as a hero for playing through illness to do their job if they win?
Tell me Jeff what was your last bad cholesterol count? If it is too high I might have to rethink getting invested in reading your stories.

Mr. Mustard

December 15th, 2011
10:04 am

This team has nearly given me a heart attack several times this year and I only watch them. It is no surprise Coach Smith is having discomfort in his chest. Better hospitalize him, run an EKG and full body CAT SCAN, and hang some garlic above his bed.

I’m surprised he’s alive. This organization will kill you, just ask Coach Reeves. I’m afraid a pattern is emerging when the Falcons have success, our head coaches stroke out.

Could be the Falcons are cursed and when you break the curse with competence, you pay.

(This is meant to be funny, and in know way dismisses the seriousness of the situation. I wish Coach Smith full health, happiness and success. I also admire Coach Dan Reeves as one of the better coaches in history. 5 Super Bowls. Wow! – Good luck to coach Smith and go Falcons!)

GTT

December 15th, 2011
10:15 am

I just hope he’s OK.

Jeff Schultz

December 15th, 2011
10:15 am

Schwartz: 1) Finding out information is part of our job description and, while maybe you don’t care, I guarantee many/most readers do; 2) Clarity on a matter like this prevents speculation. Falcons have no-commented since last night, and only now are considering putting out a statement. If they did that last night or early this morning, it would somewhat put the matter to rest. 3) The rest of your comments make no sense to me. 4) My cholesterol is high. See, full disclosure. Do with that what you will.

juvenal

December 15th, 2011
10:16 am

was nothing physically giving Urban chest pain…….pray he is fine……

Jeff Schultz

December 15th, 2011
10:16 am

Sonny Clusters — I do not want to see Arthur Blank with a whistle. More importantly, neither does he.

juvenal

December 15th, 2011
10:17 am

thought the pros waived hippa on the players to avoid fixing charges……..

dean

December 15th, 2011
10:19 am

Thanks Jeff.

I agree it’s too early to speculate. In my 2 lines of work the past 39 years, it’s always been plan, plan, and plan followed by, “What do we do if (fill in bad event___________) happens?”, because the plan never goes according to plan.

JSS

December 15th, 2011
10:19 am

A team doctor is not a cardiologist or a pulmonary specialist. All it takes is one embolism or tachycardia episode and you won’t have to worry about as something as a football game. Smith needs stop worrying football get his health truly taken care of properly.

I spent 4 years doing nothing but working with a first-rate group of cardiologists on my Mother’s heart issue. And they only found the true root of the matter by happenstance after 3.5 years of countless tests. What are they going to say if he has Hank Gaithers scenario on the sideline or on a team charter?

Hindu Elvis Pimp

December 15th, 2011
10:21 am

My cholesterol level was so high, last time it was checked, bacon came out!

Boobs

December 15th, 2011
10:25 am

(.) (.) what a bunch of boobs.

JSS

December 15th, 2011
10:27 am

And this is where letting Emmitt Thomas go was a mistake… It is not like Tim Lewis has coach those guys up… Emmitt and Robiskie could have put the game plan in and coached the game with a level of competence…

JSS

December 15th, 2011
10:30 am

One name: Don McCafferty…

Hindu Elvis Pimp

December 15th, 2011
10:32 am

This is how you do boobs

( . Y . )

CT Falcons Fan

December 15th, 2011
10:38 am

First, and most importantly, get welL Coach Smith. As for the big picture, I think things are lining up as well as they can for us given that NO is going to win the Division. We get in as the #5 seed and play the NFC East winner–a tough but very winnable game at either Dallas or NYG. I think we also have to hope that San Fran holds onto the #2 seed, because that leaves open the possibility that a #6 could take out NO and we’d avoid GB in the 2nd round…I know it’s foolish to hope for too many things to break a certain way but ultimately who’d want to play both NO and GB in the NFC Playoffs if they didn’t have to?

schwartz

December 15th, 2011
10:41 am

Jeff,
Thanks for the responses. I understand information is part of your job and I do enjoy reading the information you do put out. However, I feel the needed information for a coach of a team should end at private medical information. Players that line is a little more indepth, you know sprained ankle.
I know that fans “need to know” this information. I don’t understand why. Perhaps they are betting on the game. I hope Coach Smith is fine and healthy.
The point I was trying to make, I am not a writer but an engineer so sometimes it does not come out of my head correctly, was that it is interesting to me that we need to know the health status of a coach of a team that we like that plays a GAME. A game that at the end of the day is no different then Trivial Pursuit, unless again you have a bet on that game or want somebody to blame/cheer. However, many things that effect our lives or safety (airplane pilot) we don’t demand an injury status report on before we interact in someway with them. Most of that interaction is much deeper than watching on TV (unless you don’t have NFL Network) or sitting in a stadium.
Thanks for sharing you health information. I will now know not to get to attached to your writings…

Die Hard Falcon

December 15th, 2011
10:42 am

Jeff– Thanks for trying to clear this up for us, I know some have felt as though it’s none of our business and attacked you for doing your job, but I appreciate it. I do care about Smitty, I live & die by my Falcons and he’s brought a consistent winner to us, I see his passion like in 2009 when against the Redskins he got into it after they hit MR2 late, I love seeing his commitment to his players and our organization, he’s first class, a real “gentleman” of the game. I pray that he has a full & speedy recovery. If you get an opportunity let him know that all true fans thoughts & prayers are w/ him. Thanks and Go Falcons!

Frank Lane

December 15th, 2011
10:43 am

I have seven stents in my heart. He will almost certainly be okay, having caught things early.

Hindu Elvis Pimp

December 15th, 2011
10:48 am

I’m going to the game(section 228) and I will have dial my phone to 9-1 just in case. If he goes down, I only have to dial the last 1 to get help.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 15th, 2011
10:52 am

Leave it to CHOKE to literally be a COACH KILLA :)

Herschel Talker

December 15th, 2011
10:53 am

Schultzie:

Why do you answer boneheads like schwartz? Waste of time. Don’t stoop to his level.

HT

Hindu Elvis Pimp

December 15th, 2011
10:54 am

@ HT?

How do you know he stooped? Maybe he needed a ladder.

JSS

December 15th, 2011
10:57 am

@ MCR…
Come on… Time and place…

Falcons4Eva

December 15th, 2011
10:59 am

I would be lying if I said that my blood pressure and nervous systems did not register something different every time I watch the Falcons play. I care about this team too much to not let it affect me. (Sad. But true!). I suspect that Mike Smith has similar stresses.

Generally speaking, we (fans) tend to watch (and enjoy) sports and other forms of entertainment to get away from the every stresses in life. That’s what its for. (in my opinion obviously). The only time the my heartbeat does not beat faster or my hands don’t shake when I watch them play (Falcons) is when they play a team like the Saints and the Packers when I KNOW for a fact they are going to lose, and therefore my expectations are NOT raised high. I actually relax and they don’t affect me at all. Sadly, its only when they (the falcons) play teams I expect them to win that I get down right uptight and nervous about and get disappointed (and angry) at this team because the are close games that should not be close at all. But Smith and Company make undue stress on themselves and their fans with the way they play and manage games they should win, and win by comfortable margins! ! ! but they don’t.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 15th, 2011
11:00 am

The Mike Vick curse lives on :)

Big Crimson 75

December 15th, 2011
11:00 am

Falcons can beat Green Bay !!!
I want the Packers in Lambeau !!!!!

bake

December 15th, 2011
11:01 am

i like ( . Y . )

Gatorzone

December 15th, 2011
11:07 am

Please don’t go all “Urban” on us coach! We need you too much!!!

Win big tonight!

Gatorzone

December 15th, 2011
11:11 am

Shultz, can you ban the likes of Matt “CHOKE” Ryan? I am so sick of guys like this on a Falcon Fan page… Lets get rid of the Haters please?

pace53

December 15th, 2011
11:16 am

Been there , Done that… It is a red flag to all those who may experience the same symptoms.
Heart attacks- and the various signs of them are nothing to take without precaution.
The pressures of the NFL and winning are more than most of us mortals deal with. Hope it goes well.

ATL Guy

December 15th, 2011
11:18 am

NFL page on ESPN has NOT ONE topic on the Falcons. Playing Thursday Night Football with playoff contention … where’s the love !?!? Giving me chest pains …

JSS

December 15th, 2011
11:21 am

Always trying to ban someone… Worry about your own posts,…

Hindu Elvis Pimp

December 15th, 2011
11:25 am

The worst thing you can do is acknowledge that someone else’s rhetoric(Matt Choke Ryan) bothers you. You just fuel the fire, and expose yourself as a dim wit. Notice Schultz never acknowledges MCR, why should you?

Falcons Fan in Wisconsin

December 15th, 2011
11:27 am

Hopefully Coach Smith will be fine. I had a terrible bout of esophogitis two years ago which appeared to many to be a heart attack (the esophagus was causing terrible spasms). My heart checked out ok and now I had to change some eating habits and was put on medication to treat it. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this is what is going on. Stress can play a big role in tripping up the esophagus!

Paula

December 15th, 2011
11:28 am

Is that what you sports bloggers do not “speculate” and pass on unsubstantiated gossip from other web sites? Geez, how far the AJC has fallen. What happened to real journalism that we used to get from Jesse Outlar and Furman Bisher. Jeff, you and Mark Bradley seem to only care about putting up headlines and garbage blogs to see how many hits you can get. Ethical behavior and reporting are no more in your world.

Glenn and the art of Zen

December 15th, 2011
11:28 am

I would guess the next thing he will need is a dye test to see if he has any blockages in his arteries . This is so common with head coaches in the NFL . Chan Gailey had a bypass when he was at Tech . Seeing he is coaching now in the NFL it is something one can recover from . The hope is that it isn’t any as major as that . Coach Smith for all his gray is still rather young . Hopefully relaxation techniques like meditation will help .

DhirtyBrhd

December 15th, 2011
11:44 am

You may remember at the last first game of the season for the Thrashers last year when Pavs passed out cold on the ice. Let’s just hope this doesn’t happen with Coach tonight. The last thing anyone would want to have happen is to cover up his own health because of a game. I realize that it’s the NFL but one’s own health should come before anything, including an NFL game. I don’t want the Falcons to end up saying we should have put his health first and didn’t. If Coach needs to get well, I’m sure the Falcons would be just fine w/o him for a game if it was necessary. Health FIRST.

Larry30

December 15th, 2011
11:53 am

Maybe JSS can do heart surgery…he knows everything else.

Hollywould

December 15th, 2011
11:53 am

Choke, real classy

Larry30

December 15th, 2011
11:56 am

JSS your mother’s doctors should have seen YOU were the problem immediately.