- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Chuck Pagano and Rick Reilly share a hometown -- Boulder, Colo.
So when Reilly writes about the Colts' coach, he’s got some handy background.
When Pagano, who’s fighting leukemia, took off his hat as he delivered a postgame speech Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, he revealed his bald head publicly for the first time. Reilly saw something from Pagano he’d never seen before: frailty.
Chuck Pagano has always been as unstoppable as the wind and twice as unpredictable. In the first grade, his teacher called (his mom) Diana and asked if she could tie him to his chair to settle him down. "Sure," Diana said, "as long as I can come down there and tie you to yours." He'll turn left when you think he's going right. But there's always a reason. The man could motivate a tree sloth.
"Coach Pagano's an inspiration,' says Colts QB Andrew Luck who just shaved his head in solidarity, along with more than 20 teammates. 'I love him. We all do.' No wonder every Colts player wears a "Chuckstrong" T-shirt during pregame warm-ups.
“But a constant chemo drip and 25 days in one hospital bed will get down even a 5,000-hour energy drink like Chuck. So when his brother flew in from San Diego on a rare day off two weeks ago to spend 10 hours with him, he had his own motivational speech to give him.
'Listen,' (his brother) John said before he left (from a recent visit). "Anybody comes in that door, you show strength, you show grit and you show them how you're gonna whip this thing. 'Cause you are.'"
There is a lot of quality insight and detail here, from a top writer who happens to know the guy and the family he’s writing about.
We keep learning more about the coach the Colts are rallying around, and it keeps showing us why exactly the team is rallying so hard.