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Coach Pagano Battles Cancer

paganoIn September, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano learned he had a treatable form of leukemia. The Colts announced on October 1 that Pagano was undergoing treatment and would no longer be able to coach the team. Interim head coach Bruce Arians took the reins, and with Pagano on their minds, the inspired Colts rallied to put themselves in playoff position. Pagano’s struggle with leukemia has raised awareness about the disease through the “Chuckstrong” campaign taking hold around the NFL and the country.

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On the eve of the one year anniversary of his hiring date as head coach of the Colts, Chuck Pagano is a happy man.

“I feel great, I feel awesome… Very blessed,” he said.

The last 12 months of Pagano’s life have been the stuff of fiction, but he lived it all first hand with his wife, Tina, by his side.

Just three games into the season, Pagano was diagnosed with Leukemia. Tina was the one who encouraged him to investigate his fatigue and mysterious bruises during the team’s bye week.

“At first I thought it was just from wear and tear – him playing rough… but when they came back and were very symmetrical, that’s when I felt kind of a red flag,” she said.

Pagano received his diagnosis and was hospitalized immediately. Treatment began and so too did the “Chuckstrong” movement. The outpouring of support was more than Tina could have imagined.

“I was very surprised. It was overwhelming the amount of support we got. I loved all the letters. They called him ‘Chuck’ and acted like they knew him.”

The actions of others were inspiring, but Tina says faith played an even greater role during the tough times of chemotherapy.

“It’s what got us through I think. We had our devotionals every day and had like three different things going on. We were scared, but our faith was stronger than our fear.”

One of the humorous things about Pagano’s recovery happened in front of the television. Chuck and Tina would watch Colts games together. It proved to be an eye opening experience.

“It was the first time I ever watched a game with my wife in 24 years of marriage,”  said Chuck Pagano.

Apparently, Tina was a little more animated than Chuck expected.

“I looked at her like ‘Really?’”

Both are happy to have Chuck back at work now, and he’s already looking forward to next season, which he hopes will be his first full campaign as an NFL Head Coach.

And whatever happens in the next 12 months, you know the Paganos will be Chuckstrong.

BALTIMORE – There was nothing unexpected about their reactions as they walked towards the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium.

Disappointment hung on their faces just minutes removed from the end of their season following a 24-9 loss to the Ravens Sunday afternoon. No solace could be found in their improbably run to the playoffs, only regret at the opportunity just past.

“Walking out of a playoff losses is one of the hardest things you can do,” said owner Jim Irsay, who saw many of these players dealing with just that in the locker room. “It hurts like hell.”

But the charismatic owner was quick to offer a more global reflection on the 2012 season. It’s a team that won 11 games, but it’s not that total that made it unique.

There was the end of the Manning era and the beginning of the Luck regime. There was leadership and roster turnover in the spirit of rebuilding. There was a coach who was diagnosed, fought and returned to coaching after Leukemia kept him off the sidelines for 12 games.

“This year was incredible. It was special and unique in so many ways,” said Irsay. “It was one of the most special seasons in the Colts history and probably NFL history. I couldn’t have imagined how this season would have played out.

“We had a coach fighting for his life, we re-organized, won 11 games and went to the playoffs.”

Chuck Pagano’s Leukemia battle and recovery had a lot to do with the added significance of the season. Immediate shock and sadness was immediately followed by the “ChuckStrong” movement and an emotional win over the Packers. He got back to the Colts complex for some meetings in November and began to attend home games at Lucas Oil Stadium. An emotion Christmas Eve news conference welcomed his return to full-time work and his sideline appearance in the Texans’ win cemented his comeback.

“Coach is an inspiration to us and the people in Indianapolis,” said quarterback Andrew Luck of Pagano’s journey. “The courage that he has shown this season has been an example for us all. His situation put a lot of perspective on football and life.

“We just love him to death.”

Feelings of a rookie were shared by defensive end Dwight Freeney, an 11-year veteran of the franchise who saw a new twist to his tenth playoff season.

“It really was bigger than football,” said Freeney of 2012. “Seeing that adversity that happened to Chuck and for him to fight back and get back out there doing the things that he loves and for us to rise together to bring an extra oomph just because we know he’s watching and make him proud.

“It was a special year.”

Pagano returned similar praise to his team in the moments following the defeat on Sunday. Despite losing their coach the Colts became just the second team to lose 14 games the season before and make the playoffs in the following season. Its going through these “circumstances” as Pagano likes to say that points to strong potential for the coming years.

“The foundation is set. We said we were going to build one on rock and not on sand, because you can weather storms like this and you can learn from times like this,” said Pagano of the season and Sunday’s playoff defeat. “The disappointment and the feelings that they all have right now, that’s what is going to propel us to 2013. That’s what’s going to motivate us to come back and work even harder.

“We’ve got a young group, as you know, and we’ve got a bright future.”

Though they’ll enjoy to take a quick look back at a unique season every now and again.

Chuck Pagano has been the Colts head coach for less than a year.  However, in a short time he has made a major impact on the franchise and also the people of Central Indiana.  When Pagano was diagnosed with Leukemia in late September, fans rallied behind the #Chuckstrong motto and showed their support in a variety of ways.

On the eve of the Colts Wildcard Playoff game, Pagano wrote a message thanking the fans.  The following letter was published in the Indianapolis Star late Saturday  night and will appear in their print editions Sunday:

To the people of Indiana:

When I accepted the job as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts last January, it was a dream come true for me and my family. I knew I was coming to an organization with a great owner and a great winning tradition. I knew Indy had great fans, but I might have underestimated just how great. Being new to the community I never expected the outpouring of support I received from Colts fans throughout the state and country. The love and support you showed my family and me gave me a tremendous amount of comfort and peace. Every letter, success story, prayer and act of kindness made this process a whole lot easier. I am also fortunate to have had some of the best doctors and nurses in the country right here in Indiana to care for me.

I am proud to serve as the head coach of your Colts. I take great pride in knowing that the team has persevered this season because you have shown them the same support you have shown my family and me. You have had a huge impact on my recovery and our season and I look forward to accomplishing great things here for a long, long time.

On behalf of the Pagano family, thank you for helping me heal and for showing our country that we do have the best fans in the entire world; fans whose love for their coaches and players extends way beyond the football field.



Chuck Pagano

The Colts play Baltimore Sunday at 1:00 p.m. with the winner advancing to the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs to take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos next Saturday.

INDIANAPOLIS – Emotions have run high since the day in October when it was announced that he had Leukemia.

They were at a fever pitch when the Colts played and won their first game following the diagnosis. Every Colts breakdown has ended with an emotional cheer of “Chuck”. Tears were shed when the coach talked for the first time since beating Leukemia on Christmas Eve.

So it was no surprise that Chuck Pagano’s return to the field Sunday before the Colts game with the Texans would feature the same outpouring of emotion.

“What a day. What a day,” said Pagano of his return. “Thank you all for like I’ve said before, your support, thoughts, prayers. This meant the world to me.”

The welcome back started for Pagano when he entered the field a little over an hour before the game and just before his team returned to the field for their full pad warm up.

Immediately the coach sought out his family for a series of hugs and kisses near the Colts tunnel before heading out to the field. While out there he interacted with a number of people including many of his players, general manager Ryan Grigson, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and even Houston Texans owner Bob McNair.

Of course Pagano talked with a number of Colts players, many of whom made it a point to walk over and shake his hand as he stood and watched warm-ups.

During this time, Pagano twice found an opportunity to meet and greet with fans both on the sidelines and stands.’

“The fans, if I didn’t thank them, I’ll thank them again. We’ve got the very best fans in the National Football League,” said Pagano. The outpouring of support and prayers and everything that they’ve shown me and my family and what they did for this team week in and week out, they’re the best.

” I can’t thank them enough.”

Before the opening kickoff Pagano was honored again by the sell out crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium with a video tribute and a standing ovation. The coach turned to the crowd and waved to the fans as he prepared to coach his first game in over three monhts.

“It’s like a dream come true again. It’s the greatest feeling in the world to be down there,” said Pagano, who put on the headset for the first time just after the tribute. “You know you have thoughts coming back, we talked about it’s just like riding a bike. You just jump back on and start pedaling.”

The scoreboard would show that it was that easy for Pagano and the Colts who didn’t lose any momentum in the transition from Bruce Arians. In perhaps their most complete effort of the season the Colts beat the AFC South champion Texans 28-16. When it was over a number of Texans players embraced Pagano along with Colts players as he made his way toward the south tunnel.

Just before going in, Pagano again made his way towards the stands to greet with fans and sign autographs before going to the locker room. There he joined the team in a dance circle, received the game ball from owner Jim Irsay before delivering a long speech to his team.

“So to go along with all those things, this was a pretty special day and we’ve got a pretty special group of men in that locker room and in our organization and we’ve got special people who live in this city and this state,” said Pagano. “I can’t thank you all enough.”



Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano addressed the media Monday, on his first day back on the job.

A full transcript of his speech follows:

“The happiest day of my life was July 1, 1989. That’s when I got married to my wife Tina. I want to thank you (to Tina). She’s a soldier, a warrior, my soul mate. And my family, my mom and dad, my daughters. You can’t get through something like this without somebody as strong and as loving as your family. I thank you Tina. The guys who came and saw me up at (IU Simon Cancer Center) know the bed she slept on every night. She never left my side except to go home and do some laundry every morning that we were there. We were there for 25 days. You got me through and I thank you. Circumstances don’t make you. I talked about it a long time ago. They don’t make you, they reveal you. There are things that go on in the National Football League, around our communities, in our neighborhoods, around the world, around the country and around our city. You just shake your head at and you ask and say ‘Why?’ We lost a couple of ballplayers in recent weeks and months. You just shake your heads. (Hurricane Sandy) hits the East Coast and you wonder why. And then you ask yourself, September 26, when I sat in front of the doctor and he diagnosed me and told me exactly what I had.

“For a second there, you might sit back and say ‘Why?’ Again, circumstances don’t make you, they reveal you. And what was revealed to me along with the love and support of my wife and family was that my owner, Jim Irsay and his family, there is not a better man in the entire National Football League. I knew it the first time I shook his hand when I came here to interview for this job. The love and support that he and his family gave me, I’m forever in debt. Thank you Jim to you and your entire family. You were with me every step of the way. ‘What can I do for you coach? What do you need? What does your family need?’ There wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t feel his presence.

“To my general manager, Ryan Grigson, and his wife, Cynthia. Every step of the way, support and prayers with his entire family from the region, getting cards and letters. Thank you Ryan and your family for your support and love. It means the world to me.

“To Bruce (Arians), I told you guys the first phone call, and I mentioned it to the team this morning, the first phone call I made after I got this job was to Bruce and to see if he would be interested and I thank God that he was available and interested. I thank him again today. He was the first phone call I made on that Sunday after I was admitted into the hospital with this. We kind of had to wait, but he was the first guy I called and told him about my circumstances. I asked him if he would lead this team and this ball club and this organization and take over the reins. What a masterful, masterful job you did Bruce.

“You carried the torch and all you went out and did was win nine ballgames. You got us our 10th win yesterday and you got us into the playoffs. You did it with dignity and you did it with class. You’re everything that I always knew you were and more. And to the entire coaching staff, all the work that you’ve done and you put in, I can’t thank you enough. I’ll never be able to repay each and every one of you for the jobs that you have done.

“And to our players, for their effort and work they put in. I told them this morning that the sky is the limit for this group. There is just no quit and that’s because of your leadership and I thank you Bruce and the entire staff. To this organization, everybody standing here today, I thank you, all the texts, letters, cards and notes. We got together a long time ago in here, didn’t we last spring? We had a powwow in here. And we said that it was going to take everybody in this room to build this monster. You guys have done your part. Man, have you done your part. I’d name you all but you know what I’ve been through so don’t hold me accountable to that. I thank you, my family thanks you for everything that you have done over the course of the last three months and some. You’re just as important, as I told you on that day to our success and the team’s success and the organization’s success. And I thank you for your hard work.

“To my doctor, Dr. Larry Cripe and all the nurses, staff, cooks, people who cleaned my room, I can’t thank them enough. I knew the minute I walked into Simon with my wife, on that Wednesday afternoon, September 26, and Dr. Larry Cripe looked me in the eyes and gave me the facts, he shot straight, I knew I had the very best in the land. And I thank Dr. Cripe and like I said, all of the nurses, all of the staff, everybody at IU Health and everybody at Simon. They were unbelievable. You talk about serving. There are no finer servants around than those people. They walk in there and you’re having one of those days, they just come in with a smile, they are upbeat and their attitude is unbelievable. And they get you through it as painless as possible. I love all of those people and I can’t thank them enough.

“To the media, I want to thank you for respecting me and my family and giving us the space and time we needed to get through this. I want to thank you for your texts and emails and phone messages. You guys are unbelievable, you’re outstanding and you’ve been great to work with. I’m glad I’m back and I get to work with you some more. I know Bruce did an outstanding job and you love Bruce to death. Again, I want to thank you and my family wants to thank you for giving us, like I said, the space and time that we needed.

“To the fans, people of this great city, this great state and all over the country, thank you. The prayers, the love, the support, the outpouring, I can’t imagine being anywhere else and having a city and a community embrace somebody they hardly know. I just think that’s how we roll in this great state, this great city and this great community. And around the country, I can’t tell you how thankful my family and I are to everybody who reached out. It’s unbelievable and we are so blessed.

“And in closing before I answer any questions that you might have, and please forgive me if I have forgotten or left somebody out. I didn’t want to do that. That was the thing that scared me the most about coming in today. I didn’t want to do that. If I have, I want to thank everybody again. I know this and I knew this the day that Mr. Irsay offered me this job and Ryan and I was fortunate enough and blessed enough to have this opportunity and came to Indiana. I knew it was a great place and an outstanding organization. If you are going to have to go through something like we went through, there is no place that I’d rather be than right here, as a Colt, living in this great state of Indiana, going through this with everybody in this room and everybody that supported us throughout this great state, city and community.

“I’ll forever be in debt to each and every one of you. There is no better place. I told you my best day of my life was July 1, 1989. Today was number two. Getting to pull up, drive in, get out of my car, the key fob still worked. I was beginning to question whether it would or not. When I asked for Bruce to take over, I asked for him to kick some ‘you know what’ and to do great. Damn Bruce, you had to go and win nine games? Tough act to follow. Tough act to follow. Best in the history of the NFL. That’s what I have to come back to. I’ve got my hands full. I told him today after I thanked the staff and the team that I just try not to get in the way and do the very best I can to get back into this. It’s really great to be back. Like a kid in a candy store, I get to come and be around the guys again. Do what I love to do and what I’ve done my whole life. Obviously we don’t ever want to take anything for granted. I want you to know, our entire country to know and everybody in the NFL that was so kind, generous, loving and supportive what a privilege it is to coach in the National Football League. It is the greatest sport in the world and I feel very honored.”

A brief question and answer session following Pagano’s speech. The transcript is as follows:

How soon will your light be turned off?
“Well I think as soon as they tell me it’s time to go home and get some rest, I don’t know. It was great because when I walked in here a couple times, one of the greatest gestures I’ve ever heard of and I thank you for that too, Bruce (Arians). Somebody had sent in some plastic clips so even if somebody tried to shut the lights off, they couldn’t, so those were off this morning. So we’ll go ahead and save some energy and some light bulbs and things like that and shut them down.”

Are you just going to pick up and go or do you have to pace yourself?
“We had a team meeting today at 10. I was blessed to everybody show up on a victory Monday, God bless them. So I set the alarm and woke up in time to make it here in time and yeah, I’m ready to go. As Dr. Cripe told me, he said be prudent and be smart with how you attack this thing. I will tell you that the battle, cancer is something that is unfortunately everywhere and it’s probably touched many, many of our lives in here. Not only mine but we’ve probably all had some association with it. I’ve still got a strict regimen to stick to and there’s a plan for the next couple years and then a few years after that. Again these guys, this thing is rolling pretty good so again if I just don’t get in the way. I feel great, my weight is back, my energy is back and again, it’s just a blessing to be back here.”

You’ll leave here to go to meetings and have meetings at 3:00, 5:00?
“If I can get away from the people in this audience, I could get back to. I hope everybody understands that our coaches’ time and energy has got to turn obviously towards Houston as soon as we break here and mine has to do the same thing. Again, you guys were respectful of my time and giving me and my family space during this time and I want to give you the time that you need and be respectful to you guys, but our time and energy has got to go into moving forward to get onto getting ready for the game Sunday against Houston.”

How much were you bolstered by what your team did over the last three months and how was it walking into that meeting today?
“It was incredible. Watching them, like I said, this team has no quit. We’ve talked from day one everybody thought we were crazy about what we could do and what we set our minds to do and I thank those guys. I just watched them, I sat back for the last 12 ballgames, three months, it’s been 90-something days I guess. Every week, I told them when I got diagnosed and Larry Cripe looked me in the eye and said here’s what you have and here’s the steps you have to take the beat this, there was never a doubt in my mind that I’d be standing up here at some  point addressing you and the team again. I told the team that there was never a doubt in my mind that they would be 10-5 right now. And then the playoffs, that’s what we set out to do a long, long time ago, all the way back in the spring from the first meeting. We said it was next man up and everybody has done that. So watching them week in and week out, I’m going to tell you from either a hospital bed or the bed at home in my living room, it’s not easy. Sitting there as, what I basically became, a fan, you feel helpless at times. But watching these guys work and coach and play, they inspired me. Again they have no quit and they just found ways to get it done and to win.”

You became for this community for so many people a face, a hope and a fight against cancer and leukemia. What would you say to people who are getting ready to go through that same journey themselves and don’t have the same hope?
“I would say number one, obviously having the support of your family and your loved ones, but your attitude, the way you attack this thing, it all seems so gloom and doom, if you will. You know when they hit you in the head with it, right square between the eyes with, ‘Hey you’ve got this disease, you’ve got leukemia, you’ve got lymphoma’. All I can say to those people is, and there’s such a great support group out there, is you’ve got to battle every day. There’s going to be some good days and there’s going to be some bad days, but you’ve got to have faith and you’ve got to have trust. You’ve got to ask Him every day to be healed and that’s what I did. I asked every day. Obviously they’re going to have to go through some things, radiation, chemotherapy, whatever it may be, the transfusions, you name it, I could go on and on and on. It’s just, keep the right frame of mind, you stay positive, and just know you can win. If you battle, you have that mindset, and then you can overcome. I can tell you that I got so many stories, and so many letters. The family that comes together when this happens to somebody and the stories that you hear, I got a letter from a nine-year old that was diagnosed when he was sick. He’s now in remission and cancer-free. He was smart enough to tell me, ‘Coach, you can beat this. But your attitude has got to be really good. You’ve got to be really kind to your nurses, they mean well. I know you’re not going to feel good but be very nice to them. Make sure you chew on ice, Coach, when you’re taking your chemo, it will help you so you don’t get the sores in your mouth. I prefer strawberry popsicles, you might want to try those Coach, that’s what I did.’ So to everybody out there, just the same things, it’s your faith and it’s your belief and it’s your will. Just like our players, we talk about the will to win and the will to beat your man. You’re just lining up against something else and with that will, you can overcome anything.”

Do you think this journey has changed you or will change you in a tangible way?
“Again, I always looked at the opportunities that I’ve been given and the many blessings that I have in my life and what I’ll try to pass on. What I tried to pass on to the players again today was I’ll go back and just never take one day for granted. It is a privilege to be standing here today. It is a blessing. I’ll go about my business as a football coach and those type of things in the same manner, but what I asked the guys to do was to every day that they walk in this door, the same way our coaches do and the same way I’m going to do, is I’m going to work as hard as I can and take advantage of this great opportunity that was given to all of us and live every day to its fullest.”

CHUCKSTRONG became so prevalent in the community. What does that phrase mean to you and what do you think when you see a bracelet or a banner that says CHUCKSTRONG?
“It’s really overwhelming. The whole thing was overwhelming and very humbling. I can’t thank this organization and everybody that came up with that. Winning this battle, fighting this battle, and winning this battle, like I said in the locker room during the season, this team has chosen to live in vision and not circumstances. My job as the head football coach is just beginning all over again. We talked about some things that I wanted to do down the road both personally in my life and professionally with this organization and hoisting that Lombardi trophy someday. But that whole CHUCKSTRONG, the way I look at it is my job has just begun with that. Besides my job here, now we talk about serving, my job now is to give back everything that I can possibly give back to everybody out there that’s fighting some type of illness, some type of disease, some type of cancer. That’s my goal, to become 100 percent cancer-free, hoist that trophy, dance at two weddings, and give back as much as I can give back not only to this community but to everybody that I can effect and help across this great country. Again, I want to thank you all from myself and my family, from the bottom of my heart, for all the prayers, all the love, all the support, all the cards, all the letters, all the texts, all the e-mails. There’s no way, there’s no way you could ever get through something like this alone. Again to my wife and my family and everybody in here, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Like I said earlier, if you’re going to have to go through something, I know exactly why I’m here now. This is the place you’d want to be, starting with our owner and on down. These are the finest people I’ve ever been around in my entire life and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

INDIANAPOLIS – For a number of those inside the Colts’ West 56th Street complex, Christmas truly did come a day early.

The reason legitimizes the reason to pull out the cliche since the team welcomed back head coach Chuck Pagano, who resumes his duties as the Colts head coach on Monday.

Pagano met with the team at 10 A.M. at the complex and while what was said is still unknown some players have already begun to react on Twitter. Here are some comments that have come out this morning. The Colts players will not be available for media interviews until Wednesday.

“There are some things that you can’t put into words..Situations that are only supposed to exist in movies..Chuck’s 1st meeting back..AMAZING,” said punter Pat McAfee on his Twitter account.

“Coach Pagano returned to a well-deserved standing ovation from the team today,” said tight end Coby Fleener on his account. “We are all excited to get back to work with him on the field.”

“Inspiring having Coach P back in the building today!,” said quarterback Chandler Harnish.

Tight end Dominique Jones added: “He’s backkkkkk #chuckstrong.”


Colts awaiting Chuck Pagano’s return

The team held what they hope is their final practice with out head coach Chuck Pagano on Friday afternoon. Pagano expected to be back at work on Monday after his doctor recently cleared him to return. Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians can’t say for sure if Pagano will be ready to coach after going through weeks of treatment in a battle against Leukmia.

“I think once he decides that he’s coming back and he’s full bore, that’s what it is. He’s not going to come back unless he’s ready to go. He knows what this grind is and what we’re getting into. He knows he’s ready if he comes back.”

The Colts locker room has truly been inspired by Pagano’s ability to fight the disease. He’s gone through three rounds of chemotherapy and now his cancer is in remission.

“I already knew what kind of guy he was before all this stuff took place. Just him being able to come back and fight through this does not surprise me. I know he was going to be the ultimate warrior to beat this. Now that he’s cleared to come back, it doesn’t surprise me at all. I’m just happy for him to get back here and like I said, hopefully we can continue to extend the season for him and continue to win games,” said wide receiver Reggie Wayne.

If Pagano returns the Colts want to make sure he has more then just the regular season finale against Houston to coach on the sidelines. That’s why this weekends game against Kansas City is so important, if they win the Colts are in the playoffs.

“For him to come back, he has to be 100 percent healthy and all that. Basically he’s done. He’s here and the whole goal is not just for him to be on the sideline with us for one game but to make our mark to go in here, get on fire and do what we’ve got to do to prolong his appearance on the sideline. Go as long as we can in these playoffs. Anything can happen when you’re in. We have yet to do a whole lot of things as a team and everybody can kind of read in between the lines on that. I believe this is about the time for guys to catch fire and do what we have to do,” said defensive end Cory Redding.

8 o’clock on Monday morning is the day players are waiting for, that’s when the Colts will hold a team meeting hopefully with Pagano doing all the talking as their head coach.

Indianapolis Colts Coach Chuck Pagano has been given clearance by his doctors to return to the sidelines.  While the Colts have yet to announce an official plan for his return, Monday, December 24th is a target date mentioned by Bruce Arians earlier this week.

“I think the perfect thing would be come in Christmas Eve. It’d be a great Christmas present for all of us and that’s what our goal is, hopefully he can start Monday,” Arians said during his regular Monday news conference.

Dr. Larry Cripe has been working with Chuck Pagano from the beginning and talked with Fox 59 Thursdasy about the recovery process.

“The Coach has done a great job of staying focused in what he needs to do, taking good care of himself, so I think there is no reason medically that he shouldn’t do what he decides he wants to do personally,” explained Cripe.  “I trust him to make the right decision in terms of when he returns.”

The Colts play in Kansas City Sunday and will be led by interim head coach Bruce Arians.  Arians, mentioned by many as a Coach of the Year candidate is looking forward to returning to his role as offensive coordinator

“Heck yes. I am. Hopefully we can get this victory and secure our playoff spot and turn it back over to Chuck (Pagano),” added Arians on Wednesday.

Cripe said back on October 1st when he joined Jim Irsay at a news conference to announce the news of Pagano’s Luekemia, that the goal was to return Coach Pagano as quickly as possible to the life he wants.  Now that Pagano’s cancer is in remission and Cripe has cleared him medically, the decision on when to return to coaching full-time is up to Pagano.

“As I’ve learned from the Coach and his assistants, they are very goal-oriented. I think he focused on getting back and did everything he could to make sure he got back as soon as possible,” said Cripe.

If Coach Pagano decides the time is right to return, he likely would be back in the Complex Monday and go through a normal week of preparations leading up to the regular season finale against the Texans December 30th.