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. Prophet of Jesus Christ

    Thus saith the Lord: find someone send to a poor country of africa,

    October 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Prophet of Jesus Christ

    there this person take the white thing from infection of someone

    October 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Prophet of Jesus Christ

    This thing :,r:16,s:0,i:122

    October 1, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Prophet of Jesus Christ

    and then bring to the U.S.

    October 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Prophet of Jesus Christ

    and because you said something about black people : pass one time if you have faith I will cure you, SAid God

    October 1, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Shane

    Fortunately its in a very treatable stage, and I hope the best for him and his family.

    Not a Colts fan, but someone's health goes far beyond petty rivalries.

    October 2, 2012 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ho Hum

    Bummer, dude. Well, at least he can afford treatments. Must be nice to have a paycheck and health insurance.

    October 2, 2012 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. Meself

    Praying for you Coach Pagano!

    October 2, 2012 at 5:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. unowhoitsme

    The American diet is full of chemicals, preservatives, poisons, genetically modified , aluminum (deodorant, baking powder), lotions, tooth paste, poluted water, which most people consume about 1 gallon of it per year. Multiply that by your age. And we wonder why we have cancer? There's no wondering...we do it to ourselves. The body can only stand so much abuse. The body was originally desire to each food from nature, not man's version of "food". More young kids and young adults are dying needlessly because of their poisonous diets. We never had this epidemic years ago when we ate food right off the farm.

    October 2, 2012 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. Scientifiicpoetry

    I wish this man well but... I have to ask... is this really newsworthy? Why don't the other 35,000 Americans that are diagnosed with leukemia each year get a story on CNN. It seems to me that this should be a private matter.

    Oh... and by the way, "Prophet of Jesus Christ"... you're an ass.

    October 2, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mamaboats

    Seriously? This guy has a serious illness and we have some wackadoodle prophet going on about who knows what....someone talking about health insurance....I wish you well have a tough fight on your hands but you are in good shape and you have a lot of support.

    October 2, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. indianagal

    unowhoitsme....first of all, you are right about the chemicals...however, leukemia is a blood disease...get the facts

    October 2, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. indianagal

    also, as for getting foods right off the farm, how do you know we didn't have these problems??? back then, people didn't really discuss what their loved ones died from....and people also died at an earlier age--sometimes (gasp) from diseases linked to spoiled or tainted foods because they were not washed or preserved properly

    October 2, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  14. dotheflippin'math

    To unowhoitsme: back in the "good old days" before modern civilization, the average human life expectancy was between 30-40 years. Some cancers are caused by chemical exposures, no doubt. Most cancers happen simply because we live so long. Cancers are caused by damage or mutations to cell DNA. As we age, our DNA develops more and more flaws, thus, more cancers. Cells with defective DNA are supposed to shut themselves down, but when that mechanism fails, the usual result instead is a damaged cell that multiplies rapidly. Leukemia (cancer of the blood) is one of the cancers that we've made the most progress in stopping. That said, I've lost two friends in their 30's to it, but I have other friends who have survived with it more than 20 years. I wish the coach and his family the best possible outcome. I hope he lives to die of old age, not cancer. The odds are in his favor that he still has many good years ahead of him.

    October 2, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. Hawke

    I'm glad the disease was discovered early enough to be successfully treated at such a high rate. The coach, his family and friends and the team are in my prayers.

    October 2, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
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