Chuck Pagano: 'I'm the luckiest man in the world;' Irsay has 'never been prouder'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

If it felt like the Colts did something truly special on Sunday by coming back from a 21-3 halftime deficit to stun the Packers, well, they did. And everyone around the organization recognizes it as such.

Coach Chuck Pagano, who watched the game from his room at the IU Simon Cancer Center while undergoing treatment for leukemia, said he is "the luckiest man in the world."

"I am so proud of this team, staff, organization, fans, community, etc." Pagano said in an email to The Indianapolis Star. "(I) could go on and on. I am the luckiest man in the world. I said it when I got this opportunity several months ago and I am repeating it now. The 12th man came through big time along with the TEAM THAT REFUSED TO LOSE."

Colts owner Jim Irsay was equally enthralled, telling the Star's Bob Kravitz (in a must-read column about the emotions surrounding Irsay, general manager Ryan Grigson and Pagano after the game) that he's "never been prouder of a team."

"In my 40 years in this business, I've never been prouder of a team and how they battled back," Irsay said. "I've been in a lot of winning locker rooms, Super Bowl locker rooms, but I've never had an experience like this. People talk about money, what the team is worth, those kinds of things, but this was priceless. Absolutely priceless.

"We walked in, [Pagano] got up, we all embraced and shed some tears, and Chuck said, 'You know, I don't feel so sick right now.'"

What the Colts did was indeed special. Andrew Luck led a marvelous comeback drive to give Indy a win. Reggie Wayne, as I wrote last night, was particularly special. And the defense played impressively in the second half. They were clearly inspired, as Dwight Freeney said Monday on ESPN, by Pagano.

"It means a lot across the board. He's not just a coach. He's a family member, and that's the kind of culture we have around our building," Freeney said. "One hurts, we all hurt, and we really do mean that. And we wanted to just go out there and play well for him and give him something to smile about."

Pagano certainly did. Sunday's second-half performance was one for the ages in Indy and the type of game that could potentially get the Colts on a roll despite losing their coach for much of the season.

Regardless, though, it was an emotional, impressive win that warranted every tear and grin that came out of the Indy locker room and Pagano's hospital room.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

 
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