Football writers honor Colts coach Chuck Pagano

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Pagano returned to coach the final regular-season game, a victory over Houston that cost the Texans a first-round bye and sent Pagano back to Baltimore for the playoffs. But the former Ravens defensive coordinator couldn’t figure out a way to upset his old team, which went on to win the Super Bowl.

Arians won the AP’s Coach of the Year award for his work while Pagano was sidelined, and now is head coach in Arizona. And along the way, many in the league joined a bandwagon that went far deeper than football.

The Colts began a campaign to raise money for leukemia research and called it CHUCKSTRONG. Many Colts players, including No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck, shaved their heads in support of Pagano. Two Colts cheerleaders raised $10,000 for leukemia research by shaving their heads during that Nov. 25 win against Buffalo.

Packers center Jeff Saturday, a longtime Indy player, wore a CHUCKSTRONG shirt during warm-ups for a game against his old team in October. After scoring a touchdown in the season finale at Indy, Texans running back Arian Foster tapped a sign in the back of the end zone as a tribute to Pagano before taking his traditional celebratory bow.

Many of Pagano’s coaching friends and old players, including Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, hugged him before and after the playoff game.

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AP sports writer Bob Baum in Phoenix contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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