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Chuck Pagano tearful in return to Indianapolis Colts

Chuck Pagano entered the room to loud applause. He fought back tears, often unsuccessfully, as he spoke. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay called it a "joyous occasion."

It's safe to say this wasn't your normal Monday coaches news conference.

"Circumstances don't make you. They reveal you," Pagano told the assembled media on his first day back to work after three months of treatment for leukemia. "What was revealed to me, along with the support of my wife and family, that my owner -- his family -- there's not a better man in the entire National Football League.

"The love and support his family gave me ... he was with me every step of the way. There wasn't a day I didn't feel his presence."

Pagano tearfully thanked his wife for never leaving his side. He also thanked Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, his team, the media and fans.

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"I can't imagine a city, a community embracing someone they don't know like this," Pagano said. "I just think that's how we roll in this great city, state, country."

Pagano pointed out interim coach Bruce Arians did a "masterful" job and that he had a tough act to follow. Pagano said he just doesn't want to get in the way and that the focus soon must turn to Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.

Despite their 10-5 record, the Colts figure to be heavy underdogs in their next two games, against Houston and the follow-up road playoff game. But Monday wasn't about the next two weeks. It was about Pagano's journey back to this point.

This felt like such a well-earned celebration for the Colts. That it came on the day after the Colts clinched a deeply improbable playoff berth makes it almost too much to believe.

"This is Spielberg stuff," Grigson told The Indianapolis Star on Monday. "To call it a storybook is almost an understatement. It's been bigger than that."

"It's a fairy tale," Irsay said. "It's a Hollywood script. But it's real."

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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