Issue 4- November 1, 2012
The Indianapolis Colts have been empowered by one phrase this season, “We are CHUCKSTRONG.”
Colts’ coach Chuck Pagano announced on Oct. 1 that he had been diagnosed with acute promyleocytic leukemia. He will undergo four to six months of treatment and most likely be out the rest of this season.
“I feel with every fiber in my body, and I know Chuck feels the same way, that he can beat this thing,” Colts’ owner Jim Irsay said optimistically.
Coach Pagano sent an email to his players, pushing them to continue winning despite his absence.
“My condition will not determine my position. I understand the condition, but choose to focus on my position, that is to stay positive and serve. We will. We can. We must. We have no choice. By any means necessary, we will overcome,” Coach Pagano said.
Signs and t-shirts encouraging Coach Pagano were on display at the week five game, as both Packers’ and Colts’ fans showed their support.
During the first half, the Packers appeared to have the game in the bag, but the Colts were playing CHUCKSTRONG, and nothing could stop them.
With four minutes and 30 seconds left, Packers were ahead 27-22. Quarterback Andrew Luck hit wide receiver Reggie Wayne for a touchdown with 35 seconds on the clock, giving the Colts an emotional victory. Luck and Wayne both played a career-best game. Luck threw 362 yards for two touchdowns with only one interception. Wayne was on fire with 13 receptions for 212 yards.
The post-game locker room was full of emotions: accomplishment, courage and a determination to keep fighting.
“Men, I’ve never been so proud of a group of guys that came together,” Mr. Irsay said. “We know what kind of man we have just down the street in the hospital fighting, fighting for his life and winning the fight. … Everyone here knows how much that this means, and this ball is going right down the street.”
Passions were running high, and the players felt the intensity of the moment. The team gathered in a huddle and began their chant for the season.
“Chuck on three. One, two, three, Chuck!”
The team knew that Coach Pagano would be coaching his heart out from the hospital bed. Mr. Irsay immediately took their trophy–the football–down the street and into his hands.
“I know [Coach Pagano’s] happy right now. I’m sure he probably was stressful during the game. It was too strenuous, but hopefully this [win] makes up for it. He deserves it. He’s been a great leader. He’s a great man. We love him in the locker room. We miss him with all our heart, but we know he’s fighting. If this can uplift him, that’s a good day,” Luck said.
The Colts continue to battle their way to the Super Bowl, inspired by their coach’s fight for his life.