Rushville Republican

Sports

July 30, 2013

Pagano: Colts have unfinished business

ANDERSON — During last year’s training camp, the Indianapolis Colts expressed their dismissal of outside expectations by sporting t-shirts that highlighted the team’s status as the 32nd-ranked team in certain NFL preseason power rankings.

The Colts backed up their belief in themselves by finishing with an 11-5 record and earning an AFC Wild Card playoff berth.

This year’s motivational t-shirts were borne out of one of last season’s most indelible moments.

After a midseason victory against the Miami Dolphins, head coach Chuck Pagano — who was battling leukemia and had been away from the team for weeks — made a surprise appearance in the postgame locker room.

His address to the team, which was shown on nearly every national highlight show that Sunday, included a particularly emotional description of the future.

“My vision that I’m living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then hoist that Lombardi (Trophy) several times,” Pagano said as his players roared their approval. “I’m dancing at two more weddings, and we’re hoisting that trophy together, men.”

As new wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey caught passes from a JUGS machine before Sunday’s afternoon practice at Anderson University, he wore a t-shirt with an image of a hand grasping the Lombardi Trophy on the back. Underneath were two simple words, “Hoist It.”

That’s the message that will dominate this training camp and, the Colts hope, the entire 2013 season. There’s a sense of unfinished business in the air.

Indianapolis trailed the Baltimore Ravens 17-9 early in the fourth-quarter of their playoff loss, but the Colts had a first-and-5 at the Ravens’ 18-yard line. Two incompletions and a penalty later, the team missed a 40-yard field goal and Baltimore later drove for an insurance touchdown en route to its own Super Bowl championship parade.

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