The Herald Bulletin

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Sports

July 7, 2014

George Bremer: Pagano's tale has big-screen potential

I'm picturing Billy Bob Thornton. Or perhaps Stephen Lang, who's probably best known for playing the bad guy in "Avatar."

Sorry. I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

"Sidelined," the new book by Chuck Pagano and agent/author Bruce A. Tollner reads so much like a treatment for a classic sports movie that you can't help but begin casting the starring role of the Indianapolis Colts head coach in your head.

Clocking in at a brisk 224 pages, there are few on-field revelations from the Colts' remarkable 2012 season to be found. When it comes to football, the book takes a sort of remember when approach. But readers who count themselves as Indianapolis fans will smile along because they most certainly do remember.

The tale's true heart lies in the moments that happened away from the television cameras and reporters' recorders. The scenes that play out in Pagano's hospital room at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center and later at his home as he undergoes treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia are heart-wrenching.

Pagano marvels at his wife, Tina, and her ability to present a strong front every day in his presence. He also talks about the support he received from Colts owner Jim Irsay — which included flying one daughter in to Indianapolis shortly after the coach's diagnosis and later sending Pagano and his wife out to see another daughter in Colorado after their granddaughter was born — and the entire organization.

General manager Ryan Grigson — who made sure Pagano got daily video from practice while he was gone — and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians — who went from the edge of retirement to the most talked about interim coach in the NFL — also play co-starring roles.

But the most poignant passages come via voice mails, emails and other correspondence with Kevin Elko — a close friend Pagano first met at the University of Miami.

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