Indianapolis Colts Welcome Back Chuck Pagano

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2012

Chuck Pagano was given a standing ovation when the Indianapolis Colts welcomed him back to the sidelines in Week 17.

Pagano has spent most of the 2012 NFL season away from the team as he fought and eventually beat, leukemia.

In his absence, the Colts underwent a transformation unlike anything we've seen in recent history. The coaches and players symbolically turned a sick franchise that won just two games in 2011 into a thriving team on its way to the playoffs—mirroring Pagano's transformation.

Led by a rookie quarterback and a career assistant coach, the Colts proved that a team galvanized by one goal and purpose is capable of overcoming tremendous odds.

Andrew Luck and Bruce Arians have led this team through some choppy waters on their journey in 2012, but behind it all was Pagano, who inspired the entire team to achieve greatness in spite of many obstacles that would have sunk lesser teams. 

There were some incredibly emotional moments along the way to the pinnacle of Pagano finally making his way back onto the field. 

Who can forget Pagano's emotional return to the team's locker room and his tear-jerking speech after they beat the Miami Dolphins in Week 9?

Who can forget the two Colts cheerleaders who shaved their heads during the team's Week 12 contest against the Buffalo Bills to honor Pagano and raise money for leukemia research?

Pagano's fight to beat leukemia inspired not only his team, but also an entire city. The fans showed their support for this great man before the final game of the 2012 season, and given the way the Colts have turned things around, they'll be cheering for him and his team for many years to come. 


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