The news coming from the Indianapolis Colts West 56th Street offices Monday morning was, to say the least, stunning.
During a hastily called news conference, teams officials confirmed that Colts coach Chuck Pagano has been hospitalized since Wednesday after being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.
According to team owner Jim Irsay, Pagano had been suffering from fatigue and some unusual bruising on his body since the start of training camp in August. The first-year Indianapolis coach had initially attributed his fatigue on the rigors of his job and on the oppressive heat during the camp’s duration.
When the symptoms didn’t go away after the start of the season last month, Tina Pagano urged her husband to go in for a checkup. Dr. Larry Cripe of the IU Health Simon Cancer Center made the official diagnosis.
The Colts did not have a game Sunday because of a regularly scheduled bye week. Pagano put the team through two days of workouts Tuesday and Wednesday before a four-day break. He entered the hospital that night.
“It’s been a very difficult week,” Irsay said. The coach was feeling some fatigue over the last few weeks, had noticed some bruising on his body that at first he thought could have been from contact on the field coaching or playing with his grandkids or whatever. Eventually, through talking to his wife, Tina, she said, ‘You need to check that out because the bruising appears to be more and more prominent.’
“So we did have the coach go in, get fully evaluated on the bruising and his fatigue, and the conclusion came down that he did have leukemia. A very difficult blow for him, for his family. We always talk about God, family, football in that order. And certainly this has been difficult for him and for his family. Knowing Chuck, his first concern always is going to be for his children, for his grandchildren, for his wife, for others. That’s just the type of man he is. But I am optimistic.”
While acknowledging that leukemia in any form is a serious disorder, the Colts owner remains confident in Pagano’s ability to battle the disease.
“I feel with every fiber in my body and I know Chuck feels the same way, that he can beat this thing. And that when you get such a difficult diagnosis like this, it’s tough. But at the same time, in terms of other diagnoses that can come down as advanced pancreatic cancer, ALS, you can pick some out there that are extremely difficult and maybe almost incurable, that’s not the case here,” Irsay said.
“The case here is we feel that and I know he feels that he will battle and get this disease in remission. It’s a marathon, there’s no question about it.
Pagano, who had been the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator before being hired as the Colts head coach in February, is expected to undergo treatment for at least six to eight weeks.
Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has been named as the team’s interim head coach. He’ll serve in that role for as long as it’s deemed necessary. Irsay, though, said that he doesn’t expect Pagano to be “all in” in terms of his coaching duties after his initial release from the hospital.
“I think it’s unlikely that he will be all-in as a head coach this season, that’s probably not in the cards where he’s going to be able to come back and be all-in this season. Certainly to be in the press box, to contribute, to do things, I’m going to let the doctor be more specific about that with his expertise on how this process goes but there are peaks and valleys,” Irsay continued.
“Once you get better, there’s more chemotherapy and it’s a process of really getting back to yourself. We know the demands in this league of being a head coach. It’s one of the most demanding jobs that you can have in this country. So Bruce Arians is going to be our interim head coach. It was Chuck’s wishes and certainly had my blessing and [general manager] Ryan’s [Grigson] blessing on that.”
Grigson said with Arians taking over the head coaching duties for the foreseeable future, the rest of the Colts’ coaching staff will pick up any slack along the way.
“I don’t think that’s going to be an issue,” Grigson said. “Whoever needs to shoulder more is going to shoulder more, whoever needs to take on a new role is going to take on a new role. But I feel like we have the right guys in place to shoulder those loads.”
Cripe explained said APML, which is also referred to as AML (acute myeloid leukemia), is a cancer of the bone marrow. Pagano is currently in semi-isolation at the IU Health Simon Center.
“He was evaluated for bruising, and that evaluation demonstrated changes consistent with acute leukemia. He was hospitalized Wednesday night and we initiated treatment at that time. I’m here because the coach has asked me to be here. He wants to deal with this challenge in a very forthright fashion,” the cancer specialist said.
“First of all, the goal of the treatment I’m about to describe is to cure the disease. That means that he’s returned to a fully functional life, the life that he worked so hard to earn and he’s looking forward to leading the Colts to some Super Bowls. However, the process is long and complicated, and we are just starting right now. For the next several weeks, this will be day-by-day. We’ll be vigilant and we’ll do everything we can to assure and help him reach a full recovery.”
• Colts officials request that all cards, letters and message of support for Pagano and his family be sent to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, P.O. Box 535000, Indianapolis, IN 46253.
• They also ask that no flowers be sent.
- Local & Bistate
Honor awaits 181st Intelligence Wing
As he sat on his mother’s lap inside the Air National Guard Base at Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field on Sunday, little Henry Shultz was all smiles as he waited for the start of a ceremony recognizing his father’s service to the community and the country.
‘The mind is a dark forest’
If you hadn’t noticed by reading this newspaper or hearing me crow about it myself, I have another collection of stories out in print.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Hoosiers’ priorities vs. legislators’ agenda
Every year at about this time, Statehouse reporters like me ask lawmakers what their priorities will be for the coming year.
Restaurant Inspections: Dec. 9, 2013
Operation Warm Christmas: Giving warmth
Crews from a Wabash Valley heating and cooling business traveled in two different directions — one went north and the other south — during the early, cold Saturday hours with one mission for the day: to bring warmth to two Terre Haute homes this season.
Small tax, big Statehouse fight
Who would have believed that old fork lifts, barber chairs and aging computers could capture the attention of so many folks around the state?
‘A part of living history is now gone’
With the death of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a “giant of history” whose fight for justice and spirit of forgiveness continue to serve as an inspiration to many, say those familiar with his legacy.
Pepsi, oil and gas agreements on School Board agenda
The Vigo County School Board will consider an agreement with Pepsi and an oil and gas license with Pioneer Oil when it meets at 6 p.m. Monday.
Q&A: Wabash Valley legislators reply to questions on business tax proposal
Wabash Valley legislators reply to questions on business tax proposal
Indiana lawmakers face ambitious agenda in short session
Lawmakers are crafting an aggressive agenda for the new year that includes a tax break for businesses, preschool funding for the poor, road spending and a divisive constitutional amendment — all packaged into a so-called “short session” of the Legislature.
Victim of Friday battery still in critical condition
The 34-year-old man who sustained severe injuries in connection to a battery incident Friday afternoon in the 2100 block of Locust Street in Terre Haute was still in critical condition as of Saturday morning, authorities said.
One man injured, one man arrested after Saturday morning stabbing
One man was injured in a stabbing Saturday morning at an extended-stay facility in Terre Haute’s north side, police said.
Sifting the ashes: Prairie Creek First Baptist Church
The cause of a late Thursday fire that destroyed a 137-year-old church sanctuary may never be known due to the intensity of the blaze.
Miracle on 7th Street: Snow just in time
It was cold and snowy in downtown Terre Haute Friday, but the holiday spirit was very much alive at the annual event, Miracle on 7th Street.
Tim Meadows: SNL cast member knew he was prime time
If you watched the first broadcast of “Saturday Night Live” on Oct. 11, 1975, raise your hand.
That gives you something in common with Tim Meadows.
City slickers: First heavy snowfall of season leaves roads slippery through night
Snow and ice covered roads, cars, buildings and homes in the Wabash Valley late Thursday night and throughout the day on Friday as the first winter storm of the season moved through the area.
Four-car crash leaves 1 dead
A four-vehicle crash in eastern Vigo County led to the death of a 51-year-old Brazil woman Thursday evening.
Turkey Run State Park suspension bridge to close temporarily
The suspension bridge over Sugar Creek at Turkey Run State Park will close Dec. 12 through Dec. 20 for the replacement of a staircase on the north end.
Santa train still on schedule today through Sunday
INDIANAPOLIS – In the wake of record-setting attendance and donations a year ago, the Indiana Rail Road Company announces Santa Claus’ return to the rails for the 24th annual INRD Santa Train from Friday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 8.
Despite today's snowfall, the Indiana Rail Road Santa Train will visit 12 southern Indiana and Illinois communities over its three-day 2013 run, delivering goodwill, donated winter clothing and, most importantly, Santa Claus to thousands of children. Admission is free.
Vigo County Jail Log: Dec. 6, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday and Friday, based on jail records.
Vigo schools closed; all events, activities rescheduled
Vigo County schools are closed today and all sponsored activities canceled this evening, including all athletic events, both at home and away, and tonight’s eighth-grade Snowball Dance. The dance has been rescheduled for Jan. 17.
UPDATE: Brazil woman dies in 4-vehicle crash near Seelyville
A four-vehicle crash in eastern Vigo County led to the death of a 51-year-old Brazil woman Thursday evening.
Former Sen. Richard Lugar receives Chapman S. Root award.
Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, recently praised by President Barack Obama for making the world a safer place, visited Terre Haute Thursday to receive the Chapman S. Root award.
Wabash Valley prepares for today’s snow and severe drop in temperatures
The weather outside was more frightful Thursday night than it was expected to be this morning, as an icy mixture of precipitation played out. But snowfall is expected to continue today to accumulate up to seven inches in the Terre Haute area, according to the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.
Lilly grants $5M to 3 Vigo colleges
Three Terre Haute colleges will benefit from a combined $5 million in Lilly Endowment grants intended to help students find “meaningful” employment after graduation.
Otter Creek Twp. moves forward on bond issue
Otter Creek Township officials Thursday unanimously voted to approve a lease agreement that moves the process forward on a proposed $1.8 million bond issue to construct a new seven-bay firehouse, which will replace a current building that sits in a flood zone in North Terre Haute.
Mayor asks for $5 million ‘tax anticipation’ loan
Mayor Duke Bennett asked the Terre Haute City Council Thursday night to approve a “tax anticipation” loan of up to $5 million that must be repaid in up to three years.
39 Indiana schools get Lilly grants
Indiana’s 39 accredited colleges and universities will receive a significant boost in improving opportunities for their college graduates to find meaningful in-state employment as a result of $62.7 million in grants from Lilly Endowment Inc., the organization said in press release on Thursday.
Special admission, activities tonight at Children’s Museum
The Terre Haute Children’s Museum is joining in today’s Miracle on 7th Street with discounted admission, an appearance by a live reindeer, holiday-themed stories and activities, music provided by the ISU Holiday Choir and an opportunity to write a letter to Santa.
United Day for United Way of Wabash Valley to be Jan. 17
United Way of the Wabash Valley is scheduled to make its final push to hit the $1.85 million campaign goal with its annual United Day for United Way on Jan. 17.
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