When the Indianapolis Colts walked away from the field this past Sunday they were walking off with more than a close win over the Miami Dolphins, they were walking away with hope, encouragement and a very defined goal. After Chuck Pagano, first-year head coach for the Colts, left in October after being diagnosed with leukemia, he returned to his team and the game for the first time.
Pagano gave a 73-second speech that was the inspiration the team needed to finish this season strong. Removing his cap to reveal his bald head, while dressed in a black coat two sizes too big, Pagano gave a locker room speech that not only encouraged his team, but the thousands who have watched it online since.
“You decided as a team, and as a family, to live in a vision,” Pagano said. “That’s why you bring things home like you brought home today. And that’s why you’re already champions.”
“I’ve got circumstances, you guys understand it, I understand it. It’s already beat. My vision that I’m living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings, and then hoist that Lombardi several times. …I’m dancing at two more weddings, and we’re hoisting that trophy together.” Pagano said.
Offensive Coordinator/Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians said, “He’s got a great chance to be back at the end of December. We need to make sure we extend this season so he can be back on the sidelines with us, healthy. That’s our goal.”
Quarterback Andrew Luck said, “Obviously, his presence is felt every day, in the facility and in the city. For all the guys to see him in the flesh of the locker room, to hear him speak, it gave a big boost to all the guys. We’re very happy to see him out and about.”
Pagano was originally not scheduled to speak to the team after the game, due to concerns about his weakened immune system. However, after the team won its third straight game this season Pagano’s remarks will forever be remembered by the Colts franchise.
Safety Antoine Bethea said, “He’s in great spirits. That’s the type of guy he is. He’s in good spirits and he’s not worried about himself. He’s worried about the team and everything. He’s already beat it. Just the type of attitude he has, that’s the type of attitude this team carries on the field.”
The Colts defeated the Miami Dolphins 23-20 at Lucas Oil Stadium, improving their record to 5-3 for the 2012 season. Sunday was Rookie Quarterback Andrew Luck’s best day, throwing for 433 yards, an NFL rookie record and his fourth 300-plus-yard game.
On October 1, the Colts announced Pagano had been diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a bone marrow cancer, and would be under going chemotherapy treatment and leaving the team. Dr. Larry Cripe, Pagano’s physician, told The Associated Press on Monday that the illness was in “complete remission.”
Receiver Reggie Wayne said, “As a team, we know that probably his best medicine is for us to continue to win.”
All of us at The Good In Sports wish Mr. Pagano a safe and speedy recovery.
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