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Team Spirit: Indianapolis Colts Players Shave Their Heads To Support Their Coach In His Battle With
November 8, 2012
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It takes a lot of strength to face a cancer diagnosis, and even more to get through the chemo treatments that often come next.

Chuck Pagano, the head coach of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, was diagnosed with leukemia in September, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. His health has forced him off the sidelines and into a hospital bed.

But Pagano's demonstrating plenty of strength and courage - after Sunday's game versus the Miami Dolphins, he surprised the team by showing up in the locker room.

He delivered an emotional speech about how his team is going to win the Lombardi trophy, and he's going to dance at two of his daughters' weddings.

Check out that speech below:

And his team, in turn, is showing their coach how much they believe in him.

After Tuesday's practice, a dozen Colts players shaved their heads to show their support for Pagano. They joined another two dozen players who have already shaved off their hair for their coach.

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Check out a video of the team losing their locks right here.

Some of the players are pretty sure the shaved look won't improve their appearance. But they're happy to do it.

"It's all for Chuck," punter Pat McAfee told the Indianapolis Star. "We all don't look good. I'm not built to have a bald head. I've got a huge sniffer.

"But we all love our coach so much that we want to show unity and let people know we're all in this together. It's a really cool thing."

Here's McAfee, in the middle, with long snapper Matt Overton on the left and kicker Adam Vinatieri on the right, sporting their new hairless look:

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The head-shaving idea came about after Pagano's locker room speech. When he saw the coach's bald head, player director of engagment David Thornton decided to bring in a barber, and a lot of the players got involved.

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The team has been doing a lot to encourage Pagano and raise awareness about leukemia. Reggie Wayne wore orange gloves when the Colts played Green Bay - orange is the colour of the ribbon associated with leukemia awareness.

And nameplates above the players lockers at the Colts complex now include orange stickers with Pagano's initials in the middle of the team's horseshoe logo.

They're rallying around the hashtag #Chuckstrong, and there are signs with the hashtag in both end zones of their stadium.

As for Pagano's condition, the news is hopeful. His physician, Dr. Larry Cripe, said on Monday the coach is in "complete remission," but he still needs two more rounds of chemotherapy.

This season has been a great one for the Colts so far.

In the 2011 season, they only won 2 out of the 14 games they played. Their star quarterback, Peyton Manning, didn't play in a single game due to injuries. The Colts released him from his contract on March 7, 2012.

Going into this year's season, the Colts weren't expected to do much.

Andrew Luck, their new quarterback, is a rookie, and this is Pagano's first season as coach.

The Guardian discussed their expectations for the Colts back in August, and said "growing pains are to be expected."

But so far, the team is doing great. They've got a 5-3 record, good for second in the AFC South division.

As NESN.com puts it, 'the Indianapolis Colts are not only exceeding expectations, but they're doing so in the face of adversity."

That's something they might well have learned from their coach.

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