Colts Coach Chuck Pagano pauses as he speaks during a news conference after… (Darron Cummings / Associated…)
Chuck Pagano made an emotional return to the playoff-bound Indianapolis Colts on Monday, resuming his role as head coach after missing almost three months while he was being treated for leukemia.
In a tearful news conference, Pagano thanked Colts owner Jim Irsay, General Manager Ryan Grigson, interim Coach Bruce Arians, the players and the rest of the organization for what has been a dream season so far. The Colts, who went 2-14 last season, are just the third NFL franchise to qualify for the postseason a year after losing 14 games or more.
Pagano, 52, was most emotional when addressing his wife, Tina, who stayed with him during his 25 days in the hospital, only leaving each day to do laundry.
“The happiest day of my life was July 1, 1989 — that’s when I got married to my wife, Tina,” he said, wiping his eyes. “I want to thank you. She’s a soldier, a warrior, my soulmate. ... You can’t get through this without somebody as strong and as loving, and I thank you, Tina.”
Arians, who was fired after last season as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator, is a leading candidate for coach-of-the-year honors. The Colts made the playoffs as a wild-card team Sunday with a win over Kansas City.
“I asked him if he would ... take over the reins, and what a masterful, masterful job you did, Bruce,” Pagano said. “You carried the torch and all you went out and did was win ballgames. You got our 10th win yesterday and you got us into the playoffs and you did it with dignity and you did it with class. I can't thank you enough.”
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