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. barfly

    get well coach

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


    SEE the high priestess objectivistaaa statue in New York > observe the BIG long object loved by the priestesses.
    SEE the steroids? and how the entire world is on their steroid shoulders? A heavy weight indeed. My
    wife left with my pickup truck without a single world, my dog got sick, reason? Simple- Iran.

    October 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. J. Davis in Knoxville, TN

    Coach, best wishes for a swift recovery! Many Americans are praying for you!

    October 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. missgal34

    As a cancer survivor myself, I know what the power of prayer can do. Sending prayers and well wishes for a speedy recovery.

    October 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jeremy

    science, not prayer cured your cancer. i know prayer doesnt work because i prayed that you idiots would acknowledge science as fact, but apparently you still talk to a ghost in the sky. bahahahaha silly people

    October 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      @Jeremy (or should I say "Jerky-my"
      Figures some atheist loser would jump in and trash good people who wish
      nothing but the best for this man.
      And some people wonder why atheists rank somewhere in between used-car salesmen and
      ambulance-chasing lawyers...

      October 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emmanuel Goldstein

      Yes Fred, EVERY atheist is a horrible person who only wishes bad on people and all religious people are so perfect and only want peace and good will. (That is sarcasm). Only a dogmatic small-minded person would make asumptions about a person's character based on their belief (or non-belief) in religion. Walk in to your church on Sunday and you will find the same percentage of jerks, idiots and hypocrites as at a meeting for atheists. Jeremy was a jerk to bring religion in to this to begin with, but your comments show that you are just as bad. That being said, let us all wish for Coach. The real important thing is his speedy recovery!!

      October 2, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. Hollywood

    As someone who has foughtand won against leukemia, i can empathize with you. My prayers are with you coach Pagano.

    October 1, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Shuffler

    My family will be including Chuck in our prayers.

    October 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Robert

    He may beat it for a while, but his time is ticking away. Nevertheless, as Jesus said, "whoever believes in Me (Jesus speaking) will never perrish but have eternal life."

    October 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bill

    No matter who your favorite team is, the entire NFL community I'm sure is praying for a speedy recovery for coach Pagnato from this horrible disease. I'm confident he will tackle it (no pun intended).

    October 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. clarke

    Get better, my prayers to you and your family. You have the fight in you, you have proven that.

    October 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |

    No matter who your team is/was, (I was a Colts fan last season), something like this overides team affiliation.May God be with this family as they face what is in front of them. Coach Pagnato, hold onto God's grace and know that He WILL bring you through this! We, football fans or not will be praying for your victory through the blessing of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.....

    October 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Eugenics

    Hopefully he will get better he will have the best medical staff money can buy. Also i don't think god cares so you might as well pray the doctors cure him and stop bothering god.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. str8whtguy

    Not a big NFL fan, but I wish you a complete recovery!

    October 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Ramsey Family

    First my sincere prayers go out to coach Pagano family & Friends. I know Coach Pagano has mean't. So much to the entire NFL Community. My entire community of Campbellsville, Ky Will have Chuck Pagano in our Deepest Prayers, And look forward to his speedy recovery back to. Coaching the Ind. Colts. FTLOTG

    October 1, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. OkayMan

    Man, I will be thinking good thoughts for you and your family.

    October 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
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