Chuck Pagano finishes chemotherapy, could return Week 17

December 5, 2012

The Colts have used their coach’s battle with leukemia as inspiration. Mostly recently, it paid off in a last-second win against Detroit. (Paul Sancya / AP)

By the time hair has returned to the heads that his players shaved in a gesture of solidarity, Chuck Pagano may be coaching the Indianapolis Colts again.

Pagano, who has been undergoing treatment for leukemia since the Colts’ Week 4 bye, could return to the sideline for the regular-season finale Dec. 30. He completed his third and last round of chemotherapy Tuesday and, in his absence, his Chuckstrong and Luckstrong team has gone 7-2 and, at 8-4, is in the mix for an AFC wild card behind rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.

“I’m fully supportive, and I have my fingers crossed that he’ll be there on the sideline if that’s where he wants to be,” his physician, Larry Cripe of IU Health Simon Cancer Center, told Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

Whether he will be on the sideline when the Colts play the Houston Texans in Lucas Oil Stadium will be his decision and the organization’s.

“Things are going well,” Cripe said. “He’s received all of the chemotherapy he was to receive. Now it’s just a matter of over the next couple of weeks recovering back to health. He can start conditioning and moving towards what he wants to do, which is return to coaching.”

The Colts have rallied around their first-year and Bruce Arians, the offensive coordinator who stepped up when Pagano’s illness was announced Oct. 1. Colts players and a cheerleader shaved their heads in support or Pagano, who has attended a couple of games while undergoing treatment. 

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After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren | December 5, 2012