Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano will almost certainly be fired Monday. That will be a bitter pill for Pagano to swallow.
Being told to leave your employer’s place of business is never fun, and while Pagano will feel some emotional upheaval upon hearing the news – if he hasn’t already – he will leave Indianapolis with a legacy that may startle Colts fans who have grown tired of Pagano’s game management and uneven public face.
Pagano will depart the Colts fifth in games coached. The names ahead of him? Don Shula, Weeb Eubank, Tony Dungy, and Ted Marchibroda. That’s a pretty damn cool group.
Among all Colts coaches who have led his team into three or more playoff games, Pagano and Dungy are the only two without a losing record.
Pagano’s all-time record of 53-43 (if the Colts win on Sunday) is nothing to sneeze at.
And to soften the blow, Pagano will depart Indy with some walking around money. His fully guaranteed contract will reportedly pay him an additional $9-million for the two years that remain.
That Pagano never realized his dream of holding a Lombardi Trophy as the coach of the Colts might lead to occasional late night wincing, that will pass as the 57-year old accepts another professional challenge while sitting on a stack of cash that will allow him to focus on football rather than family finances.
This isn’t a career obituary for a coach who cratered a franchise. It’s a reflection on a guy who had a nice long run that ended as almost all coaching tenures do – with a request to pack a box.
Virtually no one gets out of coaching untouched by a pink slip. Bill Belichick, Gregg Popovich, and Mike Krzyzewski are the only three that come immediately to mind.
We may be tempted to feel great empathy for Pagano as he is subjected to a little professional adversity, but we would be wise to embrace the notion that we should all be so fortunate to fail our way into generational wealth after spending six years at the pinnacle of a professional club with only 32 members.
I think Chuck will be OK.
Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.