By Samuel Njoku
There may not be another team in the NFL that portrays the qualities of a family more so than the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have made that clear with the way they’ve handled crisis after crisis this season. Baltimore has dedicated this season to Art Modell, who passed away last month at the age of 87. They have been there for Torrey Smith as he continues to deal with the loss of his brother just a few days ago. Now, the Ravens organization must deal with another crisis.
Former Ravens defense coordinator Chuck Pagano has been diagnosed with leukemia. He’s expected to be hospitalized for the next six to eight weeks. Leukemia is a form of cancer that is characterized by the increase of immature white blood cells. It’s somber news that has literally rocked the foundation of the Colts organization. And though Pagano wears blue and white as a member of Indianapolis, the ripple effects of this devastating news has reached the city of Baltimore as well.
“[It’s] a tough one, said Lardarius Webb. “I sent him a text message this morning and told him to get well soon. He said he’s going to fight it, he’s’ going to work through it. It hit our heart this morning when we heard the news, and we just can’t believe that it’s Chuck – one of ours. We know he’s a Colt, but he’s still one of us. We send all of our heart and condolences to him. It hit us hard this morning.”
That’s the type of team the Baltimore Ravens have. Nobody conducts business better than the Ravens. In their short time in Baltimore, they’ve had to make a fair share of tough decisions. But at the end of the day, they’re all family. This includes Brian Billick, Art Moddell, Rex Ryan, and of course Chuck Pagano.
“He’s just one of the guys,” Webb went on to say. “He interacts with us just like he’s one of us – like he’s one of the teammates – not our coach. He’s just a likeable guy. [He] always has a smile on his face. He’s always joking around, having a good time, enjoying work. While he was always serious about his job, but he was having fun, and we loved that.”
Dr. Larry Pripe, the physician who will be treating Pagano expressed confidence that Pagano could get through this. He stated that the disease is “very treatable” and will begin treatment on Wednesday to “cure” the disease. Coach Harbaugh didn’t have to hear any of that to know the outcome of this ordeal would be very positive.
“Our hearts and our prayers go out to Chuck,” stated John Harbaugh. “Chuck’s a fighter in every respect. Chuck’s got that swagger, and I’m completely confident that Chuck will go to work on this with the same enthusiasm he does everything else in his life, and he’ll be victorious. So, we’ll be pulling for him and praying for him on that.”
Harbaugh went on to say that he and the Ravens players have been communicating with Pagano via text message. But wouldn’t reveal what the messages were specifically.
“I can’t really repeat it here, but it was real positive and very forthright about how he expects our guys to play. Our guys loved it.”
Players around the league develop a special bond with their coaches and vice versa. And while his family will be there for him as he goes through this illness, Pagano knows that he has another family in Baltimore pulling for him as well.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.