Indianapolis, IN – Chuck Pagano is back in charge of the Indianapolis Colts.
The head coach of the Colts returned to team headquarters Monday in good spirits.
Pagano, who took an indefinite leave from the team in late September after beginning treatments for leukemia, was greeted by a standing ovation when he entered the room to address reporters.
The 52-year-old Pagano, who was medically cleared by his doctor to return to his coaching duties last week, thanked his family, the Colts organization and the fans for their support over the last few months.
"The happiest day of my life was July 1, 1989 -- that's when I got married to my wife, Tina," said Pagano with tears in his eyes. "I want to thank you. She's a soldier, a warrior, my soulmate. You can't get through this without somebody as strong and as loving, and I thank you, Tina."
Under interim coach Bruce Arians' watch, the Colts went 9-4 and secured a spot in the postseason following a one-year absence. Arians tied an NFL record for most wins after a midseason coaching change. He tied the marks set by Hamp Pool of the Rams in 1952 and Wally Lemm of Houston in 1961.
"I asked him if he would ... take over the reins and what a masterful, masterful job you did Bruce," Pagano said with Arians nearby at the news conference. "You carried the torch and all you went out and did was win ballgames, you got our 10th win yesterday and you got us into the playoffs and you did it with dignity and you did it with class."
The 10-5 Colts locked up a playoff spot with a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Pagano hasn't coached a game since a Sept. 23 loss to Jacksonville. He will be on the sideline for the team's regular-season finale against Houston on Sunday.
"I'm ready to go," Pagano said. "Dr. (Larry) Cripe told me, 'Be prudent, be smart how you attack this thing.' ... I still have a strict regimen to stick to. There's a plan for the next few years and the years after that. ... I feel great. My weight's back. My energy's back."