Chuck Pagano was supposed to be history in Indianapolis. After the Colts’ season finale on Sunday, he was even given a game ball by the players, with the assumption being he had just coached his last game with the team.
But the next day, as the NFL’s so-called Black Monday wore on, there was no news out of Indianapolis -- until a late-night announcement, which delivered good news for Pagano, as well as the players and fans who had rallied to keep the popular coach.
“I’m happy to announce that we are moving forward with Chuck as our coach,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a news conference announcing announcing a new four-year deal for Pagano.
“I’m really thrilled. Chuck has earned the opportunity. It worked out really well.”
Pagano, 55, was thrilled as well.
“I’ve had a lot of great days in my life, but none better than today,” the fourth-year coach said. “This is absolutely the best day of my life and I’m grateful and I’m thankful to Mr. Irsay and his family for the opportunity that he’s given me.”
The Colts were 11-5 during Pagano’s first three seasons as head coach, reaching the AFC championship game in 2014. But star quarterback Andrew Luck missed nine games with injuries this season, and the team struggled to an 8-8 season.
Plus, there were rumors of a growing rift between Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson. But the team has recommitted to both men, with Irsay also announcing Monday a three-year extension for Grigson that will have him and Pagano working together through 2019.
“They’re going forward together,” Irsay said. “Chuck made a point of that, unsolicited, alone in my office. I had no problem with that. These are our guys. These guys are ready. There’s been a lot reported, a lot written. I know what the reality is, and this is definitely what’s best for the Indianapolis Colts going forward. I’m sure of that.”