INDIANAPOLIS – The locker room following the Colts’ 28-16 victory over the Houston Texans Sunday provided one of the most joyous and triumphant scenes in recent sports memory, as head coach Chuck Pagano celebrated his first game back on the sidelines since starting treatment for leukemia back in September.
With his cancer in full remission, Pagano showed that he was more than ready to take the coaching reins, and with the Colts set to make an improbable run into the playoffs, he announced that he was willing to take drastic measures to steer his team to a Super Bowl.
“No one expected us to do anything this season, but you guys proved every critic wrong, and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Pagano, holding back tears before his players. “You all played so hard for me while I was sick, but if we want to make it to the Super Bowl, I’m gonna need you to play with even more urgency. Which is why I am taking the liberty to infect myself with the bubonic plague.”
A grave silence swept over the locker room as Pagano inserted a long syringe into his forearm and injected the lethal bacteria into his bloodstream. He then explained that within two to five days, his extremities would begin blackening from gangrene and his lymph nodes would swell grotesquely, but that he was confident he could survive as long as the team kept winning.
“It will undoubtedly be difficult. My body temperature will soar past 104 degrees, I’ll be continuously vomiting blood, my nose and ears may fall off. But I will battle this disease and strive to return to full health, especially if you guys come out swinging against Baltimore and move us past the wildcard round, and then also continue to win in the subsequent weeks. So who’s with me?!?”
The players timidly cheered, each of them attempting to hide their horror in order to show their commitment to their newly terminally ill coach. Pagano seemed encouraged by their support, smiling enthusiastically despite the toxic virus that was at that very moment attempting to destroy him from the inside out.
Though there seemed to be a potent sense of unease among the players, veteran receiver Reggie Wayne was quick to see the situation in a positive light.
“Y’know, last year was all about Suck for Luck, but this year we’re all united under the mentality of Don’t Suck for Chuck,” he explained. “It says something special that he’d intentionally contract a horrible medieval disease just to inspire us to be our best. Pretty messed up, actually. But still really inspiring.”
Pagano later promised his players that should the team win the Super Bowl, and should he make a full recovery from the plague, then he’d do his best to contract smallpox by the 2013 season in hopes of the team becoming back-to-back champions.