Former Baltimore Ravens Defensive Coordinator and current Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano has been named the 44th George Halas Award recipient by the Pro Football Writers Association of America.
The George Halas award is given to an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to success.
Unless you live under a rock or are not a sports fan whatsoever, you have heard Pagano's story. Just three weeks into the 2012 NFL Season and his first as a head coach, Pagano was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia which is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow cells.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” Pagano said. “The encouragement I received from my family, friends, the Irsay family, the Colts organization, the City of Indianapolis and fans around the country was overwhelming. The outpouring of prayers, love and support from a community that hardly knew me, made me realize how fortunate and proud I am to serve this organization and city.”
It does not matter if you are a celebrity or a 40 hour a week worker, anytime someone overcomes a battle with cancer it is a phenomenal story of success, but when you are in the spotlight of the NFL, it is going to be much more publicized.
Pagano never lost his passion for coaching during his battle with cancer and would even analyze practice and game film, set up game plans and remained in constant communication with the coaching staff, all from his hospital bed during last season.
One of the most touching moments of the 2012 NFL season came when Pagano visited his Colts team in the locker room after a win over the Miami Dolphins and delivered one of the most heart felt speeches in recent memory.
“I’ve got circumstances, You guys understand it, I understand it. It’s already beat (referring to the leukemia). It’s already beat. My vision that I’m living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then hoist that Lombardi Trophy several times.”
Of course, after his team rallied behind 'ChuckStrong' and became the surprise team in the league to make the playoffs, Pagano and the Colts had to come to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in the AFC Wildcard round. Baltimore and Indianapolis have a understandable rivalry with the Colts being the former Charm City NFL team, but fans basically swept that under the rug for this game. Fans and players alike showed their support of Pagano by wearing 'ChuckStrong' t-shirts under their jersey's.
This award is well deserved for Pagano, but the greatest prize of all is that he beat cancer and will get to dance at his daughter's weddings!
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