INDIANAPOLIS – With 11:23 left in Sunday’s game, Indianapolis was holding onto a 20-13 lead that was precarious since Buffalo had just scored.
From a suite near midfield, Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay emerged with Head Coach Chuck Pagano just steps behind him.
Pagano waved to the crowd, lipped “thank you” noticeably a time or two and thumped his heart as he stood arm-in-arm with Irsay.
It was a brief moment. It was a special moment.
On November 4 against Miami, Pagano visited his team before and after the game. He now is in his second round of chemotherapy after having been diagnosed with leukemia in late September. Another round is scheduled, and the team wants him to return by the December 30 regular-season finale.
Players knew Pagano was on hand, and safety
“Most definitely, that was a good sighting,” said Bethea. “Coach BA (Bruce Arians) told us he was up top looking at us and watching the game. It was good seeing him on the Jumbotron and let the fans be able to see him, it means a lot. I think it means a lot to the fans and probably Chuck.”
Pagano left the team when it was 1-2. Arians and the staff have done a superb job in his absence, guiding the Colts to 7-4, a record that puts the team squarely in the playoff hunt.
Arians has said on occasion, and he did on Sunday, too, that he does not believe there is something “special” going on. He feels the team has bonded for a purpose, and that is to keep the season alive until Pagano can return.
“I think the group of young men and older men, we have a cause. When you play for a cause, you play together,” said Arians. “It’s all 53 guys for one common cause, and that’s to extend this season for Chuck (Pagano). Whether or not there’s divine intervention, I don’t think so. I would hate to think He would wear our colors and not their colors.
“Our guys are playing their tails off. Chuck’s illness has bonded our football team and coaching staff that we’re going to do this for him. Most young guys, that’s all they need. To bring a team together, you can use all kinds of words, ‘chemistry’ and all that stuff. It’s a bonding of guys who care about each other. That locker room cares about each other.”