Steve Sarkisian has waged a very public battle with alcoholism since he lost his job as USC’s head football coach, but it was New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia’s own struggle with drinking that spurred Sark to enter rehab.
“When CC Sabathia had decided to go to treatment before the Major League Baseball playoffs [in October 2015],” Sarkisian told reporters Wednesday, via ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “I thought to myself, ‘Whoa, here’s somebody who is like me, who is in a very high-profile position in sports — ace pitcher of the New York Yankees — and was being relatively commended or almost celebrated for going to do what he did.’
“I knew I needed to [go]. I didn’t know how to go about it. But that thing gave me a feeling of, ‘There’s a like person that is going to do this. I know I need to do it. Now how, what, when.’ So I made the decision to go do it. It’s been the best decision of my life.”
Over the last year and a half, Sarkisian has made great strides in overcoming the issue, resurfacing last year as an analyst for Alabama before being hired this offseason as Kyle Shanahan’s replacement in Atlanta. Sarkisian characterized the decision to enter rehab as giving him a chance to re-establish his football coaching career.
“It’s going great,” Sarkisian said about his ongoing treatment program. “It is something that is daily, and there’s varying degrees of what I do each day. But the reality of it is, it’s gone really well. And I’m in a great place.”
For their part, Falcons coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are confident Sarkisian has taken all the necessary steps to get better and be a valuable contributor to their staff. With the Falcons entrusting him with the NFL’s top-scoring offense from 2016, Atlanta represents a perfect opportunity for Sarkisian to prove he’s overcome his struggles with alcohol and is ready to coach at the NFL level.