You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Colts/NFL

  • Raiders assistant given interim job
    The Oakland Raiders promoted offensive line coach Tony Sparano to interim coach on Tuesday, a day after firing head coach Dennis Allen.
  • NFL picks up penalty flag
    The NFL said Tuesday that Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he dropped to his knees in prayer after an interception.
  • Colts give sidelined sack king extension
    Indianapolis is keeping Robert Mathis around through 2016. The team announced Tuesday it had given the 2013 NFL sacks a one-year contract extension. Financial terms were not immediately available.
Advertisement
Associated Press
Colts coach Chuck Pagano was named winner of the George Halas Award by the football writers.

Colts’ Pagano an inspiration

Coach’s cancer fight earns him Halas Award

– Chuck Pagano spent most of last season finding new ways to coach football.

During his ordeal of chemotherapy treatments for leukemia, he watched games from his bed with his wife, communicated with players and assistants by phone and text messages and scoured game film on his home computer. The Colts responded with one of the greatest turnarounds in league history and an improbable run to the playoffs.

On Monday, the Professional Football Writers Association selected Indianapolis’ inspirational coach as its George Halas Award winner for overcoming adversity.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” Pagano said in a statement released by the team. “The encouragement I received from my family, friends, the Irsay family, the Colts organization, the city of Indianapolis and fans around the country was overwhelming. The outpouring of prayers, love and support from a community that hardly knew me, made me realize how fortunate and proud I am to serve this organization and city.”

Hired in January 2012, Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in September and took a leave of absence after only three games.

The team began winning under offensive coordinator Bruce Arians while Pagano underwent treatment for 12 weeks.

Under their guidance, the young Colts rebounded from a 2-14 mark in 2011 to 11-5 in 2012 and the most surprising playoff berth of the 11 the franchise has had in the past 13 years.

Arians often acknowledged that Pagano gave the Colts a sense of purpose. It was never more apparent than the comeback against Green Bay when Reggie Wayne stretched his orange gloves across the goal line in the final minute. Orange is the color designated for leukemia awareness.

But Pagano credited moments like that and his team’s performance for keeping him upbeat throughout the grueling and draining treatments that continued late into the fall.

The mutual admiration was never clearer than Pagano’s postgame locker room speech after a Week 9 victory against Miami. It nearly brought Arians, Colts players and team owner Jim Irsay to tears.

“I’ve got circumstances,” Pagano said, at times sounding out of breath. “You guys understand it, I understand it. It’s already beat. 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 Trophy several times.”

Indianapolis didn’t stop there.

It kept winning. Pagano watched another victory over Buffalo from owner Jim Irsay’s suite and saluted the crowd, leading to a rousing ovation from the fans.

Pagano returned to coach the final regular-season game, a victory over Houston that cost the Texans a first-round bye and sent Pagano back to Baltimore for the playoffs. But the former Ravens defensive coordinator couldn’t figure out a way to upset his old team, which went on to win the Super Bowl.

Arians won the AP’s Coach of the Year award.

Advertisement