After a 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday in Indianapolis, Chuck Pagano stood before his team and delivered a message that moved everyone.
His trademark goatee is gone, he is hanging on to his last strands of hair, and he is noticeably thinner. However, the passion, the drive, and the love that he has for his life have not been touched by his illness.
We saw that on Sunday.
The Indianapolis Colts have a new quarterback, a new head coach, a new running back, several new wide receivers, and a defense that is still trying to find its identity.
Teams like that aren’t supposed to do anything.
They’re not supposed to be anything other than last place in their respective divisions.
They’re not supposed to be discussed on local news stations let alone on national television.
They’re not supposed to do anything other than anger and displease their fan base.
To that, this team answers, “Says who?”
This team of doesn’ts and don’ts is currently sitting at 5-3 and is hanging onto a wild card spot in the AFC. Oh, I forgot to mention, their head coach is fighting Leukemia as well.
It would be easy to say, look, it’s okay. The team is already rebuilding. Just concentrate on helping Coach Pagano get better and putting this team in the best position for the future.
So you’ll lose this season, but this squad is poised for 15 years of success. It is fine.
That doesn’t work if you’re Coach Chuck Pagano.
How do you survive insurmountable circumstance? You refuse to live by those circumstances. You “live in a vision.”
For Coach Pagano, this is a matter of life and death. That’s how serious cancer is, and we all know that. However, as he said in his address to his team this past Sunday, It’s already beat.”
Death just isn’t happening. It can’t. He’s supposed to dance with his daughters at their weddings, and he’s supposed to hoist multiple Lombardi Trophies. Sorry, Grim, we’ve got other things on the agenda. It, truly, is as simple as that.
Circumstance? This team should be 6-10 with Pagano. Without Pagano? Let’s go ahead and slide them down to around 4-12.
Vision? They have too much potential, and too much to play for to not make a run at a championship. Yes, I said a championship. This whole rebuilding stage? It’s already beat. The team is winning.
And what does this whole situation say about the city of Indianapolis?
For Colts fans, Coach Pagano is still an incredibly new face. A good number of Colts fans are still getting over Peyton Manning and Jim Caldwell. Hell, some are still getting over Tony Dungy.
These fans don’t know Coach Pagano personally. These fans don’t even know Coach Pagano at the level a fan usually knows the coach of the team they love.
Yet, there has been nothing but love and well wishes for the man taking over the new-look Colts. There has been nothing but love for Bruce Arians, the man who has had Coach’s back as he’s recovering from this disease and a man Colts fan know even less than Coach Pagano.
After a 2-14 season, this is exactly what the team and the city needed to regain its balance.
Indianapolis’ sense of unity was gone, and Colts fans were abandoned wondering what happened to ’06 and ’09. Moves were made, personnel were replaced, and we drafted a 22-year old athlete. Colts fans still felt as though this wasn’t the Colts team they grew to love over the last twenty or so years.
Finally, something happened.
Pagano showed the love he has for football, the love he has for his new team, and the love he has for his new city.
While at first this seemed like an emotional speech to motivate his team to continue winning games, it was so much more. This is the unity this city has been waiting for. This is the click that this team has been yearning for. This is the acceptance of Indy’s new football coach.
He has a vision of coaching the Colts for many years to come, and the city is 100% behind him.
Pagano’s message, though it had sports as the focus, transcends just that.
When you want something desperately enough, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t have it. Drive outweighs circumstance 100% of the time.
Both Coach Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts were crippled at one point or another. The “crippled” Colts are two games above .500, and show no signs of slowing down.
Coach Pagano? It has been announced that his Leukemia is in remission.
Living in the vision.