|Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano, a former assistant with the Ravens, has the support of his former team as he battles leukemia. (US Presswire)|
Though Chuck Pagano's the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts , news of his leukemia diagnosis struck a chord with those within the Baltimore Ravens organization.
Before taking the Colts job this past offseason, Pagano coached Baltimore's secondary from 2008-2011. He then served as the team's defensive coordinator last year, guiding the Ravens to the third-best total defense as it only gave up 288.9 yards per game.
Cornerback Lardarius Webb, like most of Baltimore's defensive backs, was close to Pagano. Webb sent Pagano a text message wishing him well Monday morning.
“He said he's going to fight it, work through it,” Webb said. “For a lot of guys, it hit our heart this morning when we heard the news. We couldn't believe it was Chuck, one of ours. We know he's a Colt, but he's still one of us.”
Pagano wasn't just a favorite among players, but was genuinely liked by the Baltimore media as well. He could draw genuine laughs and smiles with various expressions, such as calling Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew a “rolling ball of butcher knives.”
“Our hearts and our prayers go out to Chuck,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Chuck's a fighter in every respect. Chuck's got that swagger, and completely confident Chuck will go to work on this.”
Center Matt Birk was tending to a family-related matter over the weekend and arrived to the team's facility later than anticipated Monday. Speaking to the media Monday, he was unaware Pagano had been diagnosed with leukemia.
When told, he was taken aback with emotion filling his face.
“The thing that always comes through with Chuck, in the first day that I was here, is he has that smile, and walks around a little bit like a gunslinger,” Birk said. “He just has a great attitude. It brings a smile to your face. He has a great spirit. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
Pagano is expected to stay in a hospital for treatment during a timetable of four to six weeks.
Pagano was extremely well-liked in the Ravens locker room. Webb said Pagano related to the players as they looked at him as more than a coach.
“He's just one of the guys,” Webb said. “It's like he's one of us, one of the teammates, not our coach. He's just a likeable guy. He always has a smile on his face. He's always joking around, having a good time, enjoying work. He was always serious about his job but was having fun. We loved that.”
Follow Ravens reporter Jason Butt on Twitter @CBSRavens and @JasonButtCBS.