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.”