Colts owner Jim Irsay confirmed on Monday morning that head coach Chuck Pagano is hospitalized with leukemia, but Irsay said the cancer is treatable and that everyone is optimistic.
“It’s been a very difficult week,” Irsay said. “The coach was feeling some fatigue over the last two weeks, had noticed some bruising on his body that at first he thought could have been from contact on the field, coaching, or playing with his grandkids or whatever, and eventually through talking to his wife, Tina, she said, ‘You need to check that out.’”
As it turned out, Pagano was informed that he has leukemia. Irsay said he doesn’t expect Pagano to come back as the head coach this season, although he does think Pagano may be ready to coach from the press box at some point late this year. Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will take over as the interim head coach while Pagano is away, and Irsay said he’s confident in Arians and wants Pagano focused on getting better.
“Knowing Chuck, his first concern is going to be for his children, his grandchildren, his wife, for others: That’s just how he is,” Irsay said. “I feel with every fiber of my body, and Chuck feels the same way, that he can beat this thing.”
Still, Irsay said it’s tough for Pagano to think about anything other than football.
“He was disheartened that NFL Network wasn’t on in his hospital room,” Irsay said.
Irsay said that his message to Pagano was that they’re going to triumph over this: “When we grab the Lombardi Trophy some day,” Irsay said he told Pagano, “it’s going to be that much sweeter.”