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"It's painful, just painful, to watch him go through this -- the suffering, how awful it is. ... That's the word he used, 'awful' -- and to be so far away," Sam said. "But I just couldn't believe how elegant and truthful he was, talking about his vision and being around for his daughters' weddings. You can tell he's a fighter."
What's that worth? Bruce Arians, the interim coach and a close pal of Chuck Pagano, won't even pretend he's done any calculations. Pagano was in the locker room before the game, too, and sneaked into the coaching booth five minutes before kickoff to watch the players. They knew it.
"I don't know how you put that into any form of value," Arians said Monday, when asked what Pagano's presence meant to the team. "It was very special to have him walk through that group of guys and see their reaction to it and take that message. Obviously, in the second half we played with that same fight."
But a moment later, he slipped back into coach speak and reminded us why NFL coaches watch so much film. They can afford to believe in only those things they can actually see.
"We did a great job two weeks in a row, defensively, of swinging the tempo from a first-half basically average performance, to a really good second-half performance. The young offensive guys battled their tails off with a bunch of injuries during that game. At one point in time, we had a rookie flanker, a rookie split end, rookie tight end, rookie running back and rookie quarterback fighting on third down against the number one third-down defense, and I thought they did a good job."
Good enough, anyway, that it didn't come as much of a surprise back in Boulder. The Paganos knew sorrow years ago, when their daughter died accidentally. They learned that by honoring something or someone with your effort, some good is guaranteed to come of it.
"Like I said, he was a coach's kid. Always asking, 'What do you want me to do? What's my next move?' He always put a lot of thought into things, but he didn't really come out of his shell until college," Sam said. He paused and added, "Isn't he something now?"
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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