Colts owner: Head coach Chuck Pagano diagnosed with leukemia
Pagano is in his first year with the Indianiapolis Colts after spending four seasons as defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.
October 1st, 2012
10:51 AM ET

Colts owner: Head coach Chuck Pagano diagnosed with leukemia

Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has been diagnosed with leukemia, according to team owner Jim Irsay, and the coach's doctor describes it as a highly treatable form of the disease.

"I am very optimistic that he will beat this thing," Irsay said during a news conference Monday. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will take the team's helm during Pagano's absence, the owner said.

According to the National Cancer Institute, acute promyelocytic leukemia - the type with which Pagano was diagnosed - is an “aggressive (fast-growing) type of acute myeloid leukemia in which there are too many immature blood-forming cells in the blood and bone marrow.”

Prognosis favorable for Colts coach with leukemia

For patients who are promptly diagnosed with APL, the "disease-free survival" rate can be as high as 90% if the patient undergoes certain treatment regimens, the institute says.

Dr. Larry Cripe is overseeing Pagano's treatment. He said he doesn't know when Pagano will be able to return to football-related activities.

"The goal is to cure the disease," said Cripe. "A cure is usually defined when the cancer is in remission for three to five years."

Arians is a cancer survivor himself. He was emotional at the press conference, but kept his composure and tried to rally the Colts players.

"We have to move on from today. We are going to get ready for the Packers on Sunday," said Arians. "This football team will survive."

According to Irsay, "the coach was feeling fatigue over the last few weeks." He said Pagano had also "noticed some bruising on his body" that he thought had resulted from playing with his grandkids or perhaps some contact during football practice.

Pagano's wife urged him to see a doctor when the bruising became more prominent, Irsay said.

This is the first season for Pagano as Indianapolis head coach, and his record is 1-2 in his first three games. Prior to this season, Pagano was defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. Under Pagano, the Ravens had one of the top-ranked defenses in the league last season. Pagano turns 52 on Tuesday.

Almost an hour before the press conference, Irsay tweeted words of encouragement for his coach.


Though Irsay said it's unlikely Pagano will be "all in as a head coach this season," he said Pagano has already set a tone for coaches and players during his short tenure. Irsay said the team's primary objective now is to get Sunday's game ball after the Green Bay Packers matchup "and walk that into the hospital and put that in his hands."

Irsay isn’t the only one rooting for Pagano’s recovery. The Ravens and several NFL personalities also took to Twitter to voice their support.


Making a reference to their Miami Hurricane backgrounds, NFL network analyst Warren Sapp tweeted:


Sports Illustrated's senior NFL writer Peter King had this to tweet:


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Filed under: Football • Health • Pro football • Sports
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. slipthalo

    Pray for our coach! He's one of the good guys!

    October 1, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. gmenfan54 will win this battle.

    October 1, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. TOM

    Coach Pagano is young and healthy enough to beat this disease. You are in my prayers. GO COLTS!

    October 1, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. bob

    You will win this battle, my prayers and thoughts are with you. I speak from experience.

    October 1, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. Damn Yankee

    Good thoughts to you coach. 4th and goal..... hit it hard!

    October 1, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  6. dongp

    I beat cancer and you can too coach.

    October 1, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. pooflingingmonkey

    When I was a kid, leukemia was a death sentence. However, today's treatments are much more effective and Pagano's chances of survival are excellent. Good luck, Coach!

    October 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BOMBO ©

    Monkey killing monkey killing monkey
    over pieces of the ground

    Silly monkeys give them thumbs
    they make a club and beat their brother down.

    October 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Coltsfan

    Beat it quickly Chuck, we need you full force asap.

    October 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BlueDolphin53

    I'm praying for you Coach. You will beat this thing and be up and about before you know it!!!

    October 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James

    I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) ten years ago. I was and continue to be treated with a new drug (Imatinib) that had just been approved for use after a six month trial. I am positive that the new chemotherapy drugs developed since then will offer you great hope! Be sure to maintain your brain and continue to coach for many years to come!

    October 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sandie Odonnell

    My husband was diagnosed with AML 10 years ago. Had wonderful Dr. at Cleveland Clinic. Got the DISEASE FREE word after 5 years.Our prayers will be with you during your journey back. !!!!!!!

    October 1, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nancy

    Many prayers and good wishes from the Steeler Nation! You will beat this disease–stay strong and fight the good fight!!! God bless!

    October 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy©

    May you beat this, Coach Pagano.
    My best wishes to you and your family.

    October 1, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ASD

    We all here in Indy wish you the best Coach...we look forward to a bright future with you on the sidelines. Get well soon!

    October 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
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