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Hospitalized Colts coach Pagano reaches out to team

Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who has been hospitalized with leukemia, wrote an e-mail to the Indianapolis Star to express the pride he has for his team after watching it come back by 18 points to beat the Green Bay Packers 30-27 on Sunday.

Pagano wrote: "I am so proud of this team, staff, organization, fans, community, etc. (I) could go on and on.

"I am the luckiest man in the world. I said it when I got this opportunity several months ago and I am repeating it now. The 12th man came through big time along with the TEAM THAT REFUSED TO LOSE."

Team owner Jim Irsay visited Pagano at IU Simon Cancer Center right after the game to give him the game ball. Pagano celebrated his 52nd birthday Tuesday.

"In my 40 years in this business, I've never been prouder of a team and how they battled back," Irsay told the Star. "I've been in a lot of winning locker rooms, Super Bowl locker rooms, but I've never had an experience like this. People talk about money, what the team is worth, those kinds of things, but this was priceless. Absolutely priceless.

"We walked in, (Pagano) got up, we all embraced and shed some tears and Chuck said, 'You know I don't feel so sick right now.' "

Interim coach Bruce Arians told ESPN Radio Monday morning that he talked to Pagano after the game, saying that he knows what the win "meant to him." He also sent a text to Pagano before the game to let him know that his presence was felt at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Team officials honored Pagano by hanging signs that read "#Chuckstrong" behind each goal post and wore lapel pins with orange ribbons on a white background.

Pagano was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia last week and has been hospitalized since.

"You know, you see things in the movie, but oftentimes, life isn't as beautiful as they make it out to be," Irsay said. "But this went way past that. This was the stuff of movies. This was beautiful.

"That's as excited and animated as I've seen Chuck. I'll never forget the look on his face when we walked in with the game ball. We'll all treasure this moment forever."

-- The Sports Xchange

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