FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Steve Sarkisian says he didn't make any announcement to Falcons players. If they follow football, he says, they probably know his story.
"So much of recovery is private," said Sarkisian. "So much of it is, 'boy, I don't want people to know this is what I suffer from.' In my case, I didn't have that choice."
Sarkisian is talking about his public battle with alcohol abuse, including being fired by the University of Southern California as their head coach in 2015. Sarkisian got back into football last year with the University of Alabama, and this season will take over as the Falcons offensive coordinator.
Sarkisian says he was up-front -- the word he used was "authentic" -- with Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn about his problems, a question he knew was coming. He says he still is working every day to stay on the right path, but also isn't hiding from his past. Sarkisian says he hopes he can be a resource for Falcons players if they ever need help, or just need someone to talk to. He also hopes someone can see his story and be a positive example.
"Hopefully I can give other people that feeling of, 'man, here's somebody who committed themselves to doing this, and their life went in this direction in a positive way,'" said Sarkisian. "Maybe that's something I can do, too."
There are plenty of people rooting for Sarkisian in Flowery Branch. One of them who's cheering the hardest is cornerback Desmond Trufant, who played for Sarkisian back when he was the coach at the University of Washington. Trufant says Sarkisian was the one in his living room as a high school athlete, convincing him to play at UW, and knew he'd beat whatever obstacles he faced in life.
"That's Sark all the way," said Trufant. "He's a fighter. He's not going to quit, no matter what he's going through. That's what I've always taken from him. He attacks life. Whatever the challenges in front of him, he's going to attack it head on. That's what I've always got from Sark."
Sarkisian is, of course, focused on football: tutoring an MVP quarterback, trying to live up to last year's record-setting production and helping the Falcons back to the Super Bowl. Still, he doesn't forget the long road that brought him to Georgia, and the speed bumps along the way.
"Every day [I work on it]," said Sarkisian. "It's a daily process. I do work on it every day, and I'm doing great. I'm fortunate to work for a guy who understands what I'm working on, really has allotted me the time needed to do that, and I'm in a great space. I feel really good physically, I feel really good mentally, life is really, really good."