INDIANAPOLIS – The last time Chuck Pagano spoke before his team was in the first week of January.
Pagano was freshly back from a 12-game absence and though the players were heartened by his return, he was addressing them after a difficult playoff loss in Baltimore.
Three months past that time has allowed all parties to re-charge and when a large percentage of the roster reported Monday for voluntary workouts, they saw a different leader.
Pagano says he is fine and looks the part, sporting nice color and his typical crop of curly hair.
“I feel great. I go in for my three-month checkup at the end of this month,” said Pagano. “Hopefully, it’s the same (news). They tell you, ‘You’re still in remission.’ The energy is back, I’m working out, the weight’s back.
“They have this drug they use with chemo now for the type of leukemia I had. You take it every three months for the next two years. Other than every three months going down (to the hospital) there and having to draw blood and doing labs on it, and checking it out, that’s (it). You keep a good attitude, stay positive going in and coming out, hopefully you get the ‘thumbs up’ every three months.”
The life perspective gained by confronting and beating a serious illness provides an internal message, and that message is what he instructs his players their professions.
“Take no day for granted. We’re not promised anything,” said Pagano. “It’s real easy to stand in front of these guys. It was easy before, but now it’s even easier to say, ‘We’re not promised anything. Let’s take advantage of every day.’
“I take the same approach daily. I’m going to do everything I can to hold onto my position. Someone is out there working just as hard or harder to try to get that spot. It’s the same with them in the locker room. Never take it for granted. It’s a privilege. If you don’t look at it like it’s your right and you have that mindset and that perspective, you’ll be okay.”