INDIANAPOLIS – On Friday morning, the Colts were busy conditioning inside the indoor facility at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center for the fourth day of their offseason program.
On Friday night, Chuck Pagano had another team inside the same indoor facility striving to defeat the ultimate opponent.
The fifth annual Chuckstrong gala took place on Friday, an event that has raised nearly $3.2 million for cancer research at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. Funds raised from Friday's event are used to support cancer research projects that may lead to improved treatment options for patients.
"Blessed to be back for another one, another journey," Pagano said from the indoor complex. "This is such a great event. Just a group of people that are committed to come together for a cause and to find a cure. We may think we are a long way away. I don't think we are. These doctors and researchers that are here, these people that are here supporting don't think that. It's a great opportunity for people to come together as a family as a community and raise awareness to find a cure for cancer.
"This is all about coming together, raising awareness, support, research and trying to stamp out cancer. It's an egregious, egregious disease. It doesn't discriminate. There's people that are battling right now. There's people that lost their battle. There's people that are going to battle. But I think we can knock it out right here in Indy."
Colts players were in attendance on Friday night, greeting attendees. T.Y. Hilton took his turn catching passes from those there to raise money for cancer research.
Since Pagano's own battle with leukemia in 2012, he's been a central figure in trying to do his part in finding a cure for cancer.
Pagano spoke on Friday about the very own research that went into him beating acute promyelocytic leukemia back in 2012.
"The people that came up with the concoction that cured me, to cure APL, that was 34 years ago," Pagano said on Friday. "They have no idea that they got me well and anybody else who had APL.
"That's everybody's dream. That's our dream, our vision, our goal and that's what we are committed to."
Besides speaking on Friday's event, Pagano also touched on a few football items:
On the very new roster: "There are some new faces. We've added some talented guys. We've added competition obviously to the roster. Guys that love football. Guys that are passionate about football, high character guys."
On the draft: "Really excited. A ton of work has gone into that process. Chris Ballard has come in and done a phenomenal job of bringing the personnel side and the coaching side together, unifying and uniting this building. They've exhausted a ton of time, a ton of hours and a ton of energy---the personnel guys, the college guys, the pro guys. They've been on the road and grinded. They've been sequestered here for the last two months basically behind closed doors. They are turning every stone. Like Chris said, the cement is not try yet. We've still got six days and there's a lot of things that are going to happen leading up to next Thursday. And there's going to be a lot of things that are going to happen on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It's an exciting time because you've got a chance to get some great players and create some competition on your roster and keep developing and build what you want to build."
On working with Chris Ballard during the draft process: "You've got to go back to square one really and it forces you to spend the amount of time and exhaust the hours and the energy to evaluate everybody that is eligible in this draft. (Ballard) is trying to figure out our schemes, what type of players fit our schemes, offense, defense and special teams. What type of player we are looking for, mindset. You watch the tape and we all want big, fast, strong, physical guys, guys that can run, make plays, get to the quarterback, guys that cover wide receivers, etc. The talent is there (in the draft). Now it's just about digging to find out how these guys are wired, what's in their DNA. Do they have the characteristics? Do they have the right criteria for what we are looking for? It's been a great process."
On the 2017 schedule coming out: "I just know we open in LA against the Rams. That's the only one that matters to me. It's a great schedule. It's always an exciting time when the schedule comes out. You get a little fired up when the preseason (schedule) comes out, but really excited when the regular season one comes out. Don't buy into that notion that we got the so called easiest schedule. That never happens. They are hard to win. One game."
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