Indianapolis Colts Coach Chuck Pagano has been through a lot this season.
After being hired by the Colts during the off-season, Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and missed most of the season while undergoing treatment.
He re-assumed his head-coaching duties before the final regular-season game, a victory over the Houston Texans, and remained in that role for the Colts’ wild-card playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, a season-ending 24-9 loss.
Still, it was quite a season for the Colts, who had won just two games the previous year and revamped much of the team, opting to draft Andrew Luck as quarterback and trade all-time great Peyton Manning. While Pagano was not physically present during much of the season, the inspiration he provided the team was clear all year.
In a letter published by the Indianapolis Star on Saturday, Pagano credits the Colts’ fans with helping him and the team through a tough and painful period, saying "(y)ou have had a huge impact on my recovery and our season.”
The letter reads:
“To the people of Indiana:
When I accepted the job as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts last January, it was a dream come true for me and my family. I knew I was coming to an organization with a great owner and a great winning tradition. I knew Indy had great fans, but I might have underestimated just how great. Being new to the community I never expected the outpouring of support I received from Colts fans throughout the state and country. The love and support you showed my family and me gave me a tremendous amount of comfort and peace. Every letter, success story, prayer and act of kindness made this process a whole lot easier. I am also fortunate to have had some of the best doctors and nurses in the country right here in Indiana to care for me.
I am proud to serve as the head coach of your Colts. I take great pride in knowing that the team has persevered this season because you have shown them the same support you have shown my family and me. You have had a huge impact on my recovery and our season and I look forward to accomplishing great things here for a long, long time.
On behalf of the Pagano family, thank you for helping me heal and for showing our country that we do have the best fans in the entire world; fans whose love for their coaches and players extends way beyond the football field.