On Friday morning, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was honored by becoming the recipient of the Indiana Black Expo’s Spirit Award at the Indiana Convention Center:
According to Colts.com’s Kevin Bowen via the Indiana Black Expo’s press release, Pagano was awarded the honor from his “positive and mental toughness on and off the field during his time at Indianapolis.”
It comes just a year after Colts wide receiver great Reggie Wayne was awarded a key to the city at an Indiana Black Expo luncheon, who also happened to present Pagano with this year’s Spirit Award.
Of course, Pagano is one of the most highly respected coaches in football as a person, having been diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia during the 2012 season–only to return in late December of that tumultuous season after overcoming the disease following 3 months of cancer treatment.
The Colts would finish 11-5 during Pagano’s first season and make the playoffs after finishing 2-14 with the worst record in football just a season prior.
Pagano brought the team motto, “Build the Monster”, and has instilled a sense of toughness and grit within the Colts organization ever since.
While the Colts just underwent a disappointing season, finishing 8-8 on the year and missing the playoffs for the 1st time with Pagano as Colts head coach, the team has made the postseason in 3 of Pagano’s 4 seasons as head coach. Not to mention, the Colts are just one season removed from playing in the AFC Championship Game.
When team owner Jim Irsay deliberated on whether to dismiss Pagano at season’s end, the coach’s players rallied behind him in the locker room–sticking up for their sideline leader. Simply put, his players love playing for him and would go through a brick wall for their beloved head coach.
Entering last season with Super Bowl aspirations, the Colts lost many more games than originally intended, but the team also lost superstar quarterback Andrew Luck for 9 games and still managed to finish .500–winning their final 2 games to potentially save Pagano’s job.
Consequently, he was rewarded with a 4-year contract extension, as Irsay heard his players’ pleas and their rally cries for Pagano to keep his job and responded accordingly.
Certain coaches talk the talk, but Pagano has at least walked the walk through life. It goes without saying that the Colts coach has been through a lot from a personal standpoint, and he tries to instill that toughness, grit, and spirit within his own team.
It’s worth noting that Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, award-winning singer Dionne Warwick, and acclaimed actor Larenz Tate were also recipients of honors along with Pagano–who apparently didn’t hesitate when presented with the opportunity to get a picture with Brown at the event: