Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano's recent diagnosis of leukemia has awareness and support spreading from the NFL to the collegiate level.
According to ESPN's Michael Rothstein, Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke purchased more than 40 "Chuck Strong" T-shirts for his staff to sport leading up to the Wolverines' game against Illinois on Saturday.
The movement started when members of the Colts were seen rocking shirts that read "#chuckstrong" in honor of their embattled coach during pregame warmups last weekend.
The Indianapolis organization has rolled out a complete Chuck Strong campaign, selling T-shirts, posters and wristbands and holding a blood drive to benefit the coach, according to the Colts' official website.
Rothstein reports that the shirts will be worn by the coaching staff in the days leading up to Saturday's game and possibly during pregame warmups, but not during the game itself.
This is a heartfelt and classy sentiment by the Michigan football team and athletic department.
Now, you may be asking yourself what the connection is between Hoke and Pagano. When Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison was the DC with the Baltimore Ravens, Pagano was the secondary coach for the Ravens. And then when Mattison vacated his position in favor of Michigan, Pagano took over as the DC in Baltimore until being named head coach of the Colts.
Delving further into the ties between Hoke and Pagano, Hoke told ESPN's Rothstein,
I know his brother, John, better being out in San Diego. And Chuck, we met years ago, a long time ago. Coach Mattison and Coach [Bill] Mallory, there's a strong relationship. Family ties with the Mallorys, obviously, and Greg coaching with him.
Hoke also added that Pagano is "one of ours. He's our kind of guy, and so we wanted to pay a little tribute to him and also to the cause."
You can't say enough about the heart that shows in Hoke, who reportedly paid for the shirts out of his own pocket, which cost $20 each. In times of sickness, it's important to band together and fight as one, and that's exactly what the Wolverines' coaching staff is doing.
Even though Hoke and Pagano don't know each other all that well, it's inspiring to see the type of generosity the Michigan program possesses.
There's no doubt Michigan will have the Indianapolis organization and Pagano behind them when the Wolverines host the Fighting Illini on Saturday.
If you'd like to support coach Pagano and purchase a shirt, visit the Colts' pro shop here.
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