Arians will lead Colts during Pagano's leukemia treatment
Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was contemplating retirement from coaching when the Steelers let him go after last season. Less than a year later, he finds himself the interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Arians will lead the team while head coach Chuck Pagano undergoes chemotherapy treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow.
Arians fought his emotions as he addressed the media about taking over Pagano.
"As a cancer survivor myself, I know that these first few days are really hard on you," said Arians, who beat prostate cancer in 2007. "But as he and I talked yesterday, it's just a matter of time. I asked Mr. Irsay if we would leave the light on in his office permanently till he comes back and we are going to do that. This football team will survive. We are going to practice today. We'll get through today. Today is about Chuck and we'll get ready for the Packers on Sunday. We won't miss a beat because he's laid that foundation that we will all take and run with right now and make him proud."
Arians is a veteran NFL assistant with 20 years experience in the league. He is in his second stint with the Colts. He worked for the team three years starting in 1998 as Peyton Manning's first NFL quarterbacks coach. Arians rejoined the Colts this season under the new regime of general manager Ryan Grigson and Pagano.
"He was a quick choice," Grigson said in naming Arians to take over the team. "He's a veteran. He knows this game well. He has a great synergy with the staff and with Chuck. He's going to be able to bridge that gap between Chuck and himself and this team because they have a brotherhood on that staff like I've never seen. That was evident today. Chuck's our brother and we are all here for him. Bruce is the man to lead us forward while our leader is down. Until he comes back, Bruce Arians will carry that torch and lead that charge again until Chuck comes back."
Arians stops in the NFL include Kansas City, New Orleans, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. He spent the last eight seasons with the Steelers, including the last five as offensive coordinator. His coaching career began in 1975 as a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech.
"I know the boss (team owner Jim Irsay) wants us to get back to work and Chuck wants us to get back to work," said Arians. "That's just the way it is in this business. It just so happens it's cold at times when as a coach, you have a player injured on the field, you just move the drill down 12-15 yards to keep practicing so the doctors can do their job for that player. That's what we have to do right now."
Arians led the Colts in practice Monday afternoon as the team returned from a bye week to prepare for Sunday's 1:00 p.m. game against the Green Bay Packers at Lucas Oil Stadium.