Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano received the George Halas Award on Monday by the Pro Football Writers of America.
The Halas Award is given annually to an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. It is named for Halas, the famed Chicago Bears former player, coach and owner.
Pagano, in his first year as Colts coach, was forced to take a leave of absence after the third game of the season after being diagnosed with leukemia.
After three months in a hospital and undergoing multiple rounds of chemotherapy, Pagano returned to the team late in the season. The Colts went 9-3 in his absence under the guidance of interim coach Bruce Arians.
The Colts finished the regular season 11-5 and advanced to the AFC playoffs.
"I am honored and humbled to receive this award," Pagano said in a statement. "The encouragement I received from my family, friends, the Irsay family, the Colts organization, the City of Indianapolis and fans around the country was overwhelming. The outpouring of prayers, love and support from a community that hardly knew me, made me realize how fortunate and proud I am to serve this organization and city."
Pagano visited the team twice during the season while he was in recovery.
"I've got circumstances," Pagano told the team after a Week 9 win over the Miami Dolphins. "You guys understand it, I understand it. It's already beat (referring to the leukemia). It's already beat. My vision that I'm living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then hoist that Lombardi Trophy several times."
He returned three weeks later and watched the Colts game from owner Jim Irsay's suite. Pagano was given a loud ovation from the home crowd.
Pagano returned to coach the team during the final week of the regular season after the cancer was in remission. The Colts beat the Houston Texans 28-16.