Fired Pagano grateful for Colts’ tenure

INDIANAPOLIS — INDIANApolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano hadn’t
gotten official word, but talked like a man who knew his fate
during the postgame media conference.

After meeting with Colts owner Jim Irsay after the game, the Colts
officially announced Pagano had been let go after six seasons. The
Colts beat Houston 22-13 Sunday to finish 4-12.

“Chuck Pagano provided Colts fans with many exciting wins and
memories as head coach of the Colts,” Irsay said in a statement
after the game. “Throughout his tenure in Indianapolis, he impacted
the lives of the players he coached, those who he worked with in
the organization and Colts fans across the globe. Chuck’s first
season was one of the more inspirational stories in NFL history as
he courageously battled and overcame leukemia. As a result, his
CHUCKSTRONG Foundation has raised millions for cancer research. We
are thankful for Chuck’s contributions to our franchise and
community and we wish him, Tina and the entire Pagano family
nothing but the best moving forward.”

Pagano guided the Colts to a 56-46 overall record (including a 3-3
postseason mark) since joining the team in 2012. From 2012-2014, he
led the team to three consecutive 11-5 seasons and playoff
appearances, including a trip to the AFC Championship Game at the
end of the 2014 campaign.

Pagano addressed his tenure after the game, while declining to
directly say he expected it to be his final game as head coach.

“I’m just grateful,” said Pagano, who battled leukemia and had to
take a leave of absence for several weeks during his first season
as head coach. “I’m on this side of the dirt.”

Pagano described his tenure as being “blessed beyond measure.”

Pagano said the “blood, sweat and tears” are all worth it for the
five minutes after winning a game.

“It’s hard to win a game in the National Football League so that’s
why we do it,” Pagano said “That’s why we keep coming back. That’s
why you prepare and you fight, scratch and claw. You keep digging.
Those five minutes we just had were the best five minutes of my
life.”

Pagano said he is always emotional at the end of the season.

“I’m an emotional guy,” Pagano said. “I cry at movies, doesn’t
matter what it is. ‘Old Yeller,’ I’ve seen it 15 times, and if I
watch (Sunday night), I’ll cry again.”

Pagano thanked Irsay for giving him the opportunity during the
postgame.

“I’m grateful to Jim Irsay, his unwavering commitment is second to
none,” Pagano said. “He gave me everything I needed over the last
six years to be successful. No one has more passion and love for
the game than Jim Irsay. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
(First-year general manager) Chris Ballard is one of the finest men
I’ve ever worked with. He has a great football mind. He was with us
through thick and thin.”

Pagano praised the players and coaches for their effort and
attitude.

“It would be easy for these guys to throw in the towel and they
never did,” Pagano said.

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