As tempting as it might be, as much as they want to fight for him, the Colts are working hard to not make the rest of this season about coach Chuck Pagano and his battle with leukemia.
They still break each practice with his name, but they know they have a lot of football left to concentrate on as well.
“All of the guys, our thoughts are with him,” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said, via Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. “A lot of guys will be playing for him for a lot of games to come, but we also realize he’d be disappointed in us if we weren’t giving full effort in practice or getting too low about what’s going on or too emotional.
“We’re trying to work and put the work in. That’s what he’d want.”
Interim coach Bruce Arians said Pagano didn’t want to the team to “play for him,” and there’s an effort being made to keep things as normal as can be expected. Arians is even leaving the light on in Pagano’s office, to make sure everyone knows he’s coming back.
“As time progresses, the initial shockwaves of this thing will be over and you can’t get too caught up in emotion,” Arians said. “The football field’s kind of a safe haven. And when we get out there, it’s business as usual and we stay there. We stay focused on the moment, on one play at a time, and not getting too caught up in it.
“It’s going to really happen Saturday. More and more as the week progresses, more and more emphasis is going to be, ‘Try and win this game for Chuck.’ And Chuck doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want to put that extra pressure on these guys. Just win the game because we want to win the game. That’ll be the icing on the cake.”
The fact the Packers are rolling in this weekend makes it difficult for a young team to make the kind of tribute they want.
But Arians is trying to keep them from thinking about Pagano as they try, as futile an effort as that might be.