Chuck Pagano is once again the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
Pagano, who took an indefinite leave of absence earlier this year after he was diagnosed with cancer, returned to Indy this morning to talk with the media and return to the field for the first time in months.
Pagano, who had to fight back tears after receiving a standing ovation in the press room, said:
“Circumstances don’t make you. They reveal you … What was revealed to me, along with the support of my wife and family, that my owner — his family — there’s not a better man in the entire National Football League. The love and support his family gave me … He was with me every step of the way. There wasn’t a day I didnt feel his presence.”
Colts Owner Jim Irsay said that Pagano may have stepped away from the team while he was being treated for leukemia but he never left the thoughts of the organization.
“I know Chuck is ready for this challenge. I know the time is right for him to grab the reins and get the head coaching cap on and begin the journey. The great thing about the National Football League is that so much attention gets paid to it, so many other things happen beside win and losses and the inspiration Chuck has shown to others and the time Chuck has spent connecting with others, it really is miraculous. It’s a fairytale story, its’ a Hollywood script, it’s all of those things.”
Irsay wasn’t the only person to stand behind Pagano during treatment. Several Colts cheerleaders shaved their heads and the Colts started selling “Chuckstrong” gear to raise money for cancer treatment and support Pagano.
“I can’t imagine a city, a community embracing someone they don’t know like this. I just think that’s how we roll in this great city, state, country.”
Under interim coach Bruce Arians the Indianapolis Colts were able to clinch an unlikely playoff spot. The team will be the underdogs heading into the playoffs but Chuck Pagano will be looking to add a Disney ending to his Hollywood story.