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Colts’ Pagano Won’t Coach This Season Due to Leukemia Diagnosis

Colts’ Pagano Won’t Coach This Season Due to Leukemia Diagnosis
Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano watches from the sidelines against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sept. 23, 2012. Photographer: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is unlikely to coach again this season after being diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia, the National Football League team said.

Pagano, who turns 52 tomorrow, was diagnosed with acute promyelocyctic leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow, and is expected to make a complete recovery, Larry Cripe, his doctor, said at a news conference in Indianapolis.

“It’s unlikely that he will be all-in as a head coach this season,” team owner Jim Irsay said. “That’s probably not in the cards where he’s going to be able to come back and be all-in.”

Pagano, who began treatment Sept. 26, sought testing after feeling extreme fatigue and noticing bruising on his body, Irsay said.

“It is a relatively favorable acute leukemia in terms of the likelihood of remission and the likelihood of the coach achieving a cure,” Cripe said.

The initial phase of the treatment will keep Pagano in the hospital for four to six weeks, during which he’ll continue to undergo chemotherapy, which he already has begun, Cripe said. He’ll continue the treatments after being released as well.

“Most people with this variety of acute leukemia will in fact achieve a complete remission,” Cripe said.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will be interim coach, Irsay said.

“The case here is we feel that, and he feels that, he will battle and get this disease in remission,” Irsay said. “It’s a marathon, there’s no question about it.”

First Season

Pagano is in his first season coaching the Colts after replacing Jim Caldwell, who was fired after a 2-14 campaign. Indianapolis, which is 1-2 this season, had a bye last week and plays the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 7.

Pagano was the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator last season, leading a unit that allowed the third-fewest points and yards in the NFL. It was his first season in the position after coaching Baltimore’s secondary from 2008 to 2010. He also has been an NFL assistant with the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns.

Irsay said he fully expects Pagano to someday help the Colts win another Super Bowl title.

“I feel with every fiber in my body, and I know Chuck feels the same way, that he can beat this thing,” Irsay said. “He is ready to take this fight on and he is a fighter.”

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