Steve Sarkisian: Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia was inspiration for alcohol treatment

Sarkisian doesn't want to distract from team goals (0:34)

Falcons OC Steve Sarkisian shares his battle with alcoholism and not wanting his story to distract from the team goals. (0:34)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian pointed to an ESPN commentary about New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia for inspiring him to seek treatment for alcoholism.

The video aired in October 2015, and commentator Scott Van Pelt commended Sabathia for entering rehab for his alcohol problem. Van Pelt also shared how his own father succumbed to alcoholism.

Sarkisian was fired as the head coach at USC during the same month the video aired. (Sarkisian filed a $30 million wrongful termination lawsuit against the school that remains unresolved.)

"I was actually at home on a Sunday night and I was watching SportsCenter, and Scott Van Pelt was doing his editorial," Sarkisian said. "That night was when CC Sabathia had decided to go to treatment before the Major League Baseball playoffs. 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."

Sabathia said Sarkisian had reached out to him about his rehab decision.

"It means a lot," Sabathia said after he threw eight shutout innings in an 8-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday. "I means I feel like I made the right decision. Me and Sark have been talking, so it is great to see him doing well. That is not why I made the decision, but I'm happy that people will take a little bit from it."

Sarkisian is in a treatment program now, although he declined to discuss the details of his schedule. Falcons coach Dan Quinn, of course, spoke with Sarkisian at length about the issue before deciding to hire him to replace Kyle Shanahan, now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Sarkisian was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Alabama before joining the Falcons.

"It's going great," Sarkisian said of his treatment program. "I don't really want to get into the specific side of that stuff, but it is going really well. I think, again, the flexibility that Dan, that we've worked out, has been one that has fit well with our schedule. It's a position where I'm comfortable with it. 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."

ESPN's Andrew Marchand contributed to this report.