I was waiting to write this until the Colts overcame some big obstacle, passed a milestone, or had a momentous victory. But with Head Coach Chuck Pagano’s cancer diagnosis, October first seemed a better day than any. Especially since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, a cause now fully embraced by the NFL. Cancer is a disease that has touched everyone in some way. And today, it gripped an entire team.
There are many reasons to love Chuck Pagano. He’s a guy’s guy. He’s genuine, straightforward, and a competitor. But as father to three daughters, he’s also a girl’s guy. His family describes him as protective, encouraging, and sentimental. Married for 22 years, he and his wife Tina still enjoy weekly date nights, even during the NFL season.
On the field, there are even more reasons to love him. Coach Pagano is focused, upbeat, intense. His leadership is apparent. Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson says the team hired him to bring passion back to the organization. And four weeks in, he has already delivered. The players are engaged. And so are the fans.
It’s that energy the Colts family will miss this season, while Coach Pagano battles a different kind of opponent…leukemia. He won’t be far away, but he won’t be on the field either. Everyone in the organization describes him as a fighter, and it’s that fighting spirit that will carry him through. Colts Owner Jim Irsay says it’s a battle Pagano is ready for, “He’s tough as nails. He’s in great spirits.”
From a team perspective, General Manager Ryan Grigson says the best medicine for Coach Pagano is for the Colts players to fight for him, on the field, every week, for four quarters.
Chuck Pagano faces a long and complicated battle. But he doesn’t face it alone. His family and Colts family stand firmly behind him, so do the fans, his former players, and the entire National Football League.
Praying for my fellow Cane & Good man, Coach Chuck Pagano
— Warren Sapp (@WarrenSapp) October 1, 2012
Prayers out for Chuck Pagano and family. Coach is a very good man and he will battle this leukemia all the way.
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) October 1, 2012
Chuck Pagano has been beloved and respected at every stop throughout his career. The entire football world is praying for his full recovery
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 1, 2012
The next time I write this story will be after the Colts overcome…with Coach Pagano at the helm. It will be after winning the battle of his life. And it will be one more way he inspires his team. And those around him.
In the meantime, the Colts will leave the light on in Coach Pagano’s office until his return.
We’ll all leave a light on for you, Coach…
Get well soon.