CNHI News Service


December 31, 2012

Colts coach Pagano gets heartfelt homecoming

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indianapolis Colts thought they'd run through all possible emotions since head coach Chuck Pagano's return to work after a long layoff due to a cancer. They were wrong.

Sunday's home game against the Houston Texans, which saw Pagano working the sideline for the first time since his diagnosis with leukemia last fall, was heartfelt for fans, players and the coach, himself.

“Overwhelming. Humbling," said Pagano, who profusely thanked Indianapolis fans for showering him, his family and players with support during the past three months.

"They’re the best. I can’t thank them enough," he said. "To be down on the sideline again with the coaches and with the team and with everybody, it was a blessing. It was a blessing."

Pagano missed most of the season - the past 12 games - to undergo intensive treatment for leukemia, including chemotherapy. He officially returned to work a week ago to get back into the routine of coaching and prepare his team for its season finale against Houston.

But it wasn't until he stepped onto the Colts' home field at Lucas Oil Stadium, he said, that the reality of what happened hit him.

Greeting Pagano was an announced crowd of 66,957.

“It was like a rock star coming out of the tunnel, with all of the cameras flashing when he walked out," said rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. "I think that was sort of a lift that he gave us. It was energy. Just to have his physical presence and seeing him on sideline was great."

The Colts completed the dream-like sequence with a 28-16 upset over the Texans, who had beaten Indianapolis in Houston just two weeks earlier en route to a division title in the AFC South. The Colts finished the season with an 11-5 record and a wildcard spot in the playoffs; they play Sunday in Baltimore.

Text Only
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Basketball stars may linger on campus a while longer

    The NBA seems serious about raising its minimum age, which could signal the end of the one-and-done era in college basketball.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • mfp Hoffner's return 1.jpg Players relent, agree to play for reinstated football coach

    The boycott lasted one day, but the players who refused to practice for the college football coach from Minnesota who was reinstated to the job recently after a 20-month absence said they got their point across: better communication and a continuing significant role for their interim head coach who led the team to one of its best seasons ever in 2013.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

    The Masters lumbered on last week without two of pro golf's biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and fans changed the channel. The PGA needs someone with star power if it's going to lure people back to the game.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • mfp Hoffner's return 1.jpg Players protest return of fired Minnesota coach

    The University of Minnesota-Mankato football refused to practice Wednesday afternoon, boycotting the return of Todd Hoffner as head foot ball coach. Players said in a prepared statement that they preferred interim coach Aaron Keen, who led the team to an 11-1 record last season and the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Wildcats aren't champs but we're all still watching Calipari

    Kentucky coach John Calipari is a college basketball phenom for his ability to knit together championship-caliber teams of freshmen. How long will Calipari's success last as other coaches catch on?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Too much of a good thing at UConn?

    The Connecticut Huskies dominate women's college basketball - which makes for a boring game.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 5.06.43 PM.png Spartans mourn passing of 'Princess Lacey'

    Lacey Holsworth, the 8-year-old cancer patient from Michigan who befriended Michigan State forward Adreian Payne and established a bond with his teammates before and during the Spartans’ run to the Elite Eight, died at her home late Tuesday night, her family said.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Taking someone out to the ballgame gets expensive

    Families in big-league cities like Boston and New York pay steep prices to catch a baseball game. It's not so expensive everywhere - especially if you're frugal.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • hank_aaron_display_image.jpg VIDEO: Aaron's historic homer

    On the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th career home run, take a look at the historic moment as it happened.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg As Final Four tips off, all eyes are on the refs

    Whistles have changed the course of the NCAA tournament. Let's just hope one doesn't decide college basketball's next national champion.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo