On Monday, it was announced that Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, the brother of Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. Doctors are optimistic he will be able to make a full recovery as it is a relatively favorable form of acute leukemia in terms of curability and remission.
Nonetheless, the news hit the team hard.
“Chuck worked for me in Oakland and was a graduate assistant when I was at USC,” said head coach Norv Turner. “So I’ve known Chuck since 1984. He’s a great guy, a great person and obviously an outstanding coach. He’s a heck of a father. As Jim Irsay said today, he’s going to beat it… Chuck is a fighter. I have no doubt in my mind he’ll be back on the field in no time doing what he loves.”
“I can’t say enough good things about Chuck,” he said. “He’s a great guy. Football-wise, he knows a ton about the game. Everybody who has ever played for him has a ton of respect for him, and anybody who knows him has a ton of respect for him. The thing about Chuck is he’s a tough guy. He’s a fighter. I hate it for him and his family and the Colts organization, but he’s going to beat it.”
While it was formally announced this morning, John found out about it last week. The fact he was able to work through it and put together a game plan to dominate Kansas City speaks volumes for him as a coach and as a person.
“John found out about this on Wednesday morning,” said Turner. “That’s one of the things that as coaches, there’s a commitment you make to a group of guys, and John handled it as well as you could handle it during the week. It was a very difficult week for him. And you get all caught up in losing a game to Atlanta, and then on Wednesday morning you get a call that your brother has leukemia, and it puts things in perspective. But John did a great job this week, an unbelievable job, in handling what he needed to handle and get ready.”
Speaking on behalf of his teammates, Johnson echoed those exact sentiments.“Everybody found out about it today because they kept it under wraps, but our heart goes out to him. Now knowing what he was dealing with last week, and still coming to work and putting together that game plan to go beat the Chiefs, dealing with that behind the scenes makes you respect him that much more. It shows you the kind of person he is.”