Chuck Pagano is back where he belongs.
For the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia earlier this season, the 52-year-old Pagano returned to the Indianapolis Colts' sideline on Sunday.
Pagano returned to a 10-5 team that has already locked up a playoff berth. More importantly, his cancer is in remission after three rounds of chemotherapy. Pagano returned to work at the Colts' facilities on Christmas Eve, nearly three months after initially being diagnosed.
"I feel great, my weight is back, my energy is back and again, it's just a blessing to be back here," Pagano told reporters.
Just a few days later, he was back at Lucas Oil Field for his first game since September. As he emerged onto the field, the early fans gave him a warm welcome.
WATCH VIDEO ABOVE, via "Indianapolis Colts on WhoSay"
Pagano got an even warmer welcome from his players once the Colts and visiting Houston Texans kicked off. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck marched the offense 75 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown, allowing the first-year coach to celebrate with his staff and his players.
MORE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:
INDIANAPOLIS — Colts coach Chuck Pagano received a warm welcome in his return to the sideline Sunday, then watched his team score on its first drive.
With drums playing and the Colts cheerleaders lining up both sides of an inflatable horse, Pagano walked to his usual spot on the sideline, put on his headphones and hugged his assistants. It was his first appearance on the sideline since he began treatment for leukemia Sept. 26.
Pagano's Colts took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards to Andrew Luck's touchdown pass to Coby Fleener. The coach threw his hands in the air and wore a huge smile after Fleener caught the ball to end a 13-play drive.
Some fans brought signs to show their support for Pagano, and the team welcomed him back with a 1-minute video just before kickoff. Afterward, an emotional Pagano waved to the crowd.
During pregame warm-ups, Pagano hugged his wife and was followed by a large group of cameras. He shook hands with Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and chatted with Colts GM Ryan Grigson.
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more