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Why Chuck Pagano’s Inspiring Story, Leadership Will Boost Colts to Playoffs.

Posted By Gary Davenport On November 5, 2012 @ 8:52 pm In Colts News | No Comments

After a nightmarish 2-14 2011 season that brought with it the end of the Peyton Manning [1] era in Indianapolis not much was expected from the Colts [2] in 2012.

However, the Colts now sit at 5-3 after a thrilling 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins [3] in Week 9, and while the resurgence in Indianapolis is one of the big storylines in the NFL [4] so far this season it pales in comparison to what’s going on behind the scenes.

Head coach Chuck Pagano, in his first season at the helm of the team, was forced to take a leave of absence after being diagnosed with a form of leukemia on September 24th. The news was a blow to the team, but as veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who has known Pagano dating back to their days at the University of Miami together, recently told [5] Jeff Legwold of The Denver Post, the Colts have rallied around their coach in his time of need.

“You see it and you know,” Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. “You know what he’s going through, you know why, you know you want him to win, with every part of you, you want him to beat this thing and be the Chuck we all know. I’ve known Chuck for 16 years. I know how he can impact people’s lives. I know how he can touch people, and he’s done that here. That light is on because we believe he’s coming back, he’s going to win because he’s Chuck. Chuck is Chuck, and that’s special.”

The team has rallied on the field as well. Since Pagano’s diagnosis the Colts have gone a remarkable 4-1, adopting the mantra of “Chuckstrong” and getting themselves into the thick of the AFC playoff chase.

As good as the news on the field has been, the news off of it over the past day or so has been even better.

First, Pagano made his return to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since his diagnosis in Sunday’s win over the Dolphins, delivering a postgame speech that, as reported [6] by The Associated Press via Fox Sports, would bring a tear to the most cynical of eyes.

”I’ve got circumstances. You guys understand it, I understand it. It’s already beat. It’s already beat,” Pagano said during Sunday’s postgame speech, hesitating to catch his breath a couple of times. ”My vision that I’m living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then lift the Lombardi Trophy several times. I’m dancing at two more weddings and we’re hoisting that trophy together, men. Congratulations, I love all of you.”

Then came the announcement on Monday that Pagano’s leukemia was in “complete remission.” The coach still has a very long and arduous road ahead of him, including two more rounds of chemotherapy, but as interim head coach Bruce Arians relayed to the AP, the team was buoyed a great deal by both Pagano’s presence and this recent announcement.

”We know what’s coming, the downhill slide is yet to come,” Arians added. ”To me it’s kind of like talking to him about the playoffs this week; one day at a time, one play at a time. There’s some down time coming, but it’s great to see him here.”

The fact that the word “playoffs” is even being mentioned in Indianapolis is nothing short of remarkable, especially given where this team was a year ago and what they’ve endured since then.

That’s a testament to Pagano’s ability to get the players to buy into the mentality he was trying to establish, Arians‘ ability to keep things moving in the right direction in Pagano’s absence and the players’ determination to do right by their coach.

Granted, there’s still a lot of football to be played, and there’s no guarantee that when the dust settles the Colts will advance to the NFL’s second season.

However, if the last month has been any indication, the Colts don’t appear to be set to let their head coach down as he fights his way back onto the field, and at this point I wouldn’t bet against the Colts playing a game on the first weekend of January.

Nor would I bet against Pagano being on the sidelines to lead them.

Chuckstrong, indeed.

Follow @IDPManor [7]

Read more Indianapolis Colts [2] news on BleacherReport.com

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URLs in this post:

[1] Peyton Manning: http://bleacherreport.com/peyton-manning

[2] Colts: http://bleacherreport.com/indianapolis-colts

[3] Miami Dolphins: http://bleacherreport.com/miami-dolphins

[4] NFL: http://bleacherreport.com/nfl

[5] told: http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_21819173/chuck-pagano-finds-groundswell-support-he-battles-leukemia

[6] reported: http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/indianapolis-colts-coach-chuck-pagano-leukemia-in-remission-doctor-says-110512

[7] Follow @IDPManor: https://twitter.com/IDPManor

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