INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts complex is officially “Chuckstrong” again.
Chuck Pagano returned to work on Monday afternoon and spoke for the first time since his Leukemia diagnosis in September. Upon entering the Colts pavilion, Pagano received a standing ovation.
“Its a fairytale,” said Colts owner Jim Irsay in his opening remarks.
When the coach took the podium he first thanks his family for their help during his treatment and then praised his coaching staff for what the did in his absence.
Pagano then lauded the Colts fans for embracing his fight even thought he had been hired by the team just a few months earlier.
“There is no place I would rather be that right here as a Colt and in the great state of Indiana,” said Pagano. “Really great to be back, like a kid in a candy store.”
The coach said that he spoke to the team at 10 A.M and that he is ready to go full speed again as the head coach and will take over duties immediately. The Colts have one game remaining in the regular season against Houston on Sunday afternoon.
Pagano will be on the sidelines for the contest as he was before his Leukemia diagnosis.
“My weight is back, my energy is back,” said Pagano of being able to get back into the job quickly.
Of course Pagano will join a team that is playoff-bound having clinched the fifth seed in the AFC with a 20-13 victory on Sunday against the Chiefs. While a surprise to many fans and pundits around the NFL, Pagano was convinced such a scenario would playout before and after his diagnosis.
“There was never a doubt in my mind I would be standing up here at some point that I would be up here again,” said Pagano. “I told the team there was no doubt in my mind they would be 10-5 and going to the playoffs.
“They said it was ‘Next Man Up’ and everyone has done that.”
As he did during his post-game speech to the team on November 4th after the win over the Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium, Pagano reinforced his goal of seeing his daughter get married and the team to win multiple Super Bowl championships. Following his fight with Leukemia, however, Pagano did preach the need to appreciate life even for its simplest moments.
“Don’t take anything for granted because every day is a Privilege,” said Pagano.