INDIANAPOLIS – Colts players all have felt the pull of friendship from Head Coach Chuck Pagano, a beloved figure in the organization who preached the value of relationships almost from the first word of his introductory speech on January 25.
His words were anything but empty and the 10 months since then have found players grow very close to their head coach. Now away from the sidelines for a sixth game, Colts players on Tuesday showed a commitment to Pagano as he undergoes more chemotherapy treatment for the battle he is waging against leukemia.
Approximately 30 Colts players and some coaches and staff had their heads shaved as a bond with Pagano. Among the players getting trimmed were Andrew Luck, Drew Stanton, Reggie Wayne, Antoine Bethea, Robert Mathis, Cory Redding, Fili Moala, Kavell Connor, Justin Hickman, Pat Angerer, Jerrell Freeman, Darius Butler, Joe Lefeged, Cassius Vaughn, Tom Zbikowski, Vontae Davis, Monte Simmons, Anthony Castonzo, Joe Reitz, A.Q. Shipley, Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee, Matt Overton, LaVon Brazill, Nate Palmer, Mike McGlynn, Jeff Linkenbach, Coby Fleener, Donald Brown, Chandler Harnish, Moise Fokou and Donnie Avery.
Pagano visited the locker room before and after last Sunday's 23-20 win over Miami. Both visits were emotional and afterward Pagano stressed to the team that he intends to return and hoist Lombardi Trophy in years ahead.
After "going low" for Pagano on Tuesday, players talked about their feelings.
"We're right in there with you, Chuck. You ball, we'll ball," said defensive end Cory Redding. "We're going to do this thing."
"Oh, yeah. I feel myself becoming more attractive. We're in this together, right? (We're) family, going for Chuck," said punter Pat McAfee.
"I'm going to support Coach Pagano, going low-cut. (Wednesday), I'm going to dye my goatee orange," said cornerback Vontae Davis.
"I'm going to look silly for a month, but that's alright. It's all for Chuck, and I'm married, so it doesn't really matter," said Adam Vinatieri.
According to Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians, Pagano is undergoing a second round of treatment this week and another one is scheduled in the coming weeks. It is hoped Pagano will return to the sideline for the December 30 game with Houston.