What rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and so many of the Indianapolis Colts players have done by shaving their heads in support of head coach Chuck Pagano as he undergoes treatment for Leukemia is something that goes beyond sports and the player-coach relationship.
There is a mystique in sports that all of these athletes are super-human beings who aren't supposed to feel emotion, because it would shatter the entire illusion that fans have built up for them.
If you look at what the players are saying about Pagano, you can feel the love, respect and admiration that everyone around the coach has for him during this difficult time.
Here is what punter Pete McAfee told the Indianapolis Star about the shaved-head campaign and rally for Pagano in the locker room:
We haven’t been around each other very long. Our team was forced after all the changes to really build camaraderie and Chuck was that steadying piece. He motivated everybody. He was the guy that was pushing everything. We have grown to have a very close relationship with him in a short period of time.
We’re a family and the coach is almost like a father figure. When something happens, you want to rally behind him.
Fans and the media love to talk about team unity and chemistry being the keys to success on the field. It makes sense. If you are around a group of guys that you connect with, it makes you feel more comfortable when doing your job.
At times, though, we can overblow just how important it is that everyone likes and respects each other. A lot of bad teams can have good chemistry—they just don't have the talent to compete.
However, this is one instance where the unity and connection everyone in the locker room feels for a coach, who has only been on the job for a little more than nine months, speaks to the impact that Pagano has had on them.
We don't know all the inner-workings of what Pagano has done with this team and his players since taking over as head of the Colts. But we can see the way everyone in the locker room has rallied around him.
In an NFL where we focus too much on whether Jerry Jones still knows how to build a roster, or when Andy Reid will get fired, it is great to have a story that, while it started out on a bad note, has become galvanizing force for an entire organization.
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