Pagano Returns To Work

By Eric Dutkiewicz
By Kent Hormann

December 24, 2012 Updated Oct 30, 2013 at 6:51 PM EDT

INDIANAPOLIS (www.incnow.tv) - It was an emotional Christmas Eve for the Indianapolis Colts, as head coach Chuck Pagano returned to work for the first time since Week 3.

Pagano received a standing ovation at an afternoon press conference; recognition for a valiant battle he has fought for most of the season.

"There's no place I'd rather be than right here as a Colt," a tearful Pagano said. "I'll be forever in your debt to each and every one of you."

Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in September, and has been undergoing treatments for week. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has filled in as head coach in the interim.

"When I asked Bruce to take over, I said you got to kick some you know what," Pagano joked. "But, damn, Bruce, you had to go win 9 games!"

Pagano will return to the sidelines this Sunday when the Colts wrap up the regular season by hosting Houston. Indianapolis has already clinched a playoff spot with their win Sunday at Kansas City.

"We don't ever want to take anything for granted," Pagano pressed on. "What a privilege it is to coach in the National Football League."

Pagano has been on the minds and hearts of the franchise and fans during his time away from the game. Players and cheerleaders shaved their heads in solidarity, and fans have led the Chuckstrong cause for cancer awareness.

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