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Colts’ Irsay says it’s not ‘Super Bowl or bust’ for Pagano

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Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, discussing why there hasn’t been a contract extension for head coach Chuck Pagano, said “it’s not a Super Bowl-or-bust season.”

Pagano, who is entering the final year of his contract, released a statement last month to downplay his job security with the team because of his lame-duck status.

Pagano signed a four-year contract in 2012. He missed most of his first season while battling leukemia. Bruce Arians took over, earned Coach of the Year honors and was hired by the Arizona Cardinals.

Irsay, speaking Friday night at the Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala — an event to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research — gave his coach a huge vote of confidence in his first comments since Pagano’s contract status was revealed recently.

“These things are ongoing a lot of times behind the scenes,” Irsay told the Indianapolis Star. “We’re working on contracts, whether it’s management, coaches, players. We had discussions and it doesn’t mean that they won’t continue. It’s not a Super Bowl-or-bust season or anything like that.”

Pagano turned down a one-year contract extension from the Colts earlier in the offseason.

“I really feel positive about Chuck and what he’s done for us. There’s no question that he’s accomplished a lot since he’s been here,” Irsay said. “And, obviously, we’re here for this gala because he had that illness in 2012. Really, it’s only been kind of two years almost that he’s been coaching. He’s done a very good job. Nothing rules out that we couldn’t have an extension done before the season. If not, we can still, I’m sure, probably work things out.”

“There were some efforts to talk about it and we just didn’t get there. Sometimes that happens and people have different opinions these days. If you go back to the old days, there were no agents involved. … Again, we’re real positive about Chuck Pagano and the things he’s done and it’s not a sign of anything extremely negative. We just haven’t gotten anything done in terms of a long-term contract.”

This past season, the Colts reached the AFC Championship and lost to the New England Patriots 45-7. The Colts have won 11 games in each of the past three seasons.

“Obviously we had a great year, but again, the Pittsburgh game, the Dallas game, the Patriots games, they were concerning and we’re looking to make sure that we get that consistency and are really playing, if health is with us, really playing with that top four group, that top three or four teams,” Irsay said. “I think last year Green Bay, Seattle, New England and probably even Dallas were really teams that were playing consistent and all those things. It seemed like the NFC had maybe three (teams) and the AFC had one (team) with the Patriots.”

Pagano is helping to raise awareness for cancer research at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

“Our goal right here in Indianapolis is to find a cure for all blood cancers,” Pagano said Friday night at the event which has raised $2 million in the past two years. “Just maybe we see that happen in our lifetime.”


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