Chuck's back and the Indianapolis Colts couldn't be happier.
First-year head coach Chuck Pagano returned to take over the reins of the Colts Monday after missing most of the season. Pagano, who will be on the sidelines for Indianapolis' regular-season home finale with Houston on Sunday, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in late September and has not been on the sidelines since a Sept. 23 home-game loss to Jacksonville.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was Pagano's hand-picked replacement. All he did was to lead Indianapolis to a 10-5 mark overall (9-3 under Arians) and a spot in the AFC playoffs as the fifth-seeded wild-card team.
"[Arians] was the first phone call I made on a Sunday after I was admitted into the hospital with this. I called him and told him of my circumstances. I asked him if he would lead this team and this ball club and this organization and take over the reins. And what a masterful job you did Bruce. You carried the torch," Pagano said during an emotional press conference, which also included players and members of the Colts' coaching staff in the audience.
"And all you went out and all you did was to win nine ball games. And got us our 10th win [of the season Sunday]. And you got us into the playoffs. You did it with dignity and you did it with class. And you were everything that I always knew you were. And more. And the entire coaching staff, all the work that you've done and you've put in, I can't thank you enough. I'll never be able to repay each and every one of you for the work that you've done. And to our players, for their effort and the work that they've put in, I told them [during a team meeting Monday morning] the sky's the limit for this group. There's just no quit. And that's because of [Arians'] leadership. And I thank you Bruce and the entire staff."