Stunning declarations from Irsay, Pagano follow peace in Colts' civil war

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Dan Wetzel
·Columnist
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The Indianapolis Colts' brain trust of general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano spent Monday in something akin to couples therapy (with team owner Jim Irsay as counselor?) and decided to work it out.

We wish them the best.

Pagano, reported to be out and a guy who discussed his own hypothetical firing last month, inked a four-year contract extension after an 8-8 season. Grigson, whom he routinely clashed with, will also remain in his role.

The this-town-isn't-big-enough-for-both-of-us feud is over.

Everybody loves each other now. Apparently.

Chuck Pagano got a four-year extension with the Colts after many thought he was done in Indy. (AP)
Chuck Pagano got a four-year extension with the Colts after many thought he was done in Indy. (AP)

"[Pagano] said to me, 'Jim, I want to make sure I'm tied at the hip with Ryan,'" Irsay said. "'And I want to make sure when I get to the mountaintop, Ryan and I are there together.'"

"Chuck Pagano is a great man," Grigson said.

"It's a great, great day," Pagano said.

What exactly went down at the Colts' facility Monday is anyone's guess. It's a nice story, though, and this was a nice news conference in a sport where ego, anger and backstabbing generally make such reversals impossible. The San Francisco 49ers should have thought of this back when Jim Harbaugh was still coach.

Then again, no one knows if this will work. Monday night, at a 10:40 p.m. ET news conference, we got some of the most amazing quotes you'll ever hear.

"I've had a lot of great days in my life but none better than today," Pagano said. "This is absolutely the best day of my life."

This from a guy with a wife and three children, a guy who just a few years back defeated cancer.

Then there was Irsay praising the work of Grigson, declaring his first four years as the general manager in Indianapolis have delivered better results than the first four years of the old general manager. That would be a guy named Bill Polian, who is merely in the Hall of Fame for his work with the Colts, not to mention Buffalo Bills (when they reached those Super Bowls) and Carolina Panthers (when they got to the NFC championship game in their second year of existence).

"What we did in the first four years – Bill Polian is going to the Hall of Fame – Ryan has outdone him," Irsay said.

He may have forgotten about that first-rounder for Trent Richardson swap. It was that kind of night though.

There are a few options on what this might represent.

Was this the boss telling two employees that if they don't knock it off and work together they are both fired and both of them looking at each other and saying, "You know, we're making a lot of money here and we do have Andrew Luck"?

Maybe. Irsay mentioned a couple times he could have made a big splashy hire and handed a big name a 10-figure contract. That seemed passive-aggressive.

Anyway, if Irsay cracked the whip, then was this show two guys putting a Band-Aid on irreconcilable differences that will soon enough return to norm and doom the Colts to another season without the playoffs?

Or was this two competitive people who, via overdue communication, smoothed out some misunderstandings and now may be better than ever going forward – plus Andrew Luck will be healthy?

Not, sure. Only time and wins will determine that.

It's worth noting, though, as Irsay often did, that this is a franchise, which, under Grigson and Irsay, put together three consecutive 11-5 seasons, including a trip to the AFC championship game, before falling in a season where only anonymous sources outnumbered player injuries.

And while there is no excuse for the 0-2 start or a few other losses, the season was overwhelmed by the loss of Luck. Plus Pagano is a good guy, with an unbending optimism that players love and the community rallied around when he battled his illness.

There are worse moves than giving Pagano another year, even if Irsay is desperate to maximize Luck's prime.

Whatever it was, there is peace in Indiana. There is understanding. There are vows of unified work that will deliver a championship. At least there was late on Monday.

"We've been through the ringer together," Grigson said of his new BFF. "But we are united to do a job, and that job is to have our eyes on a championship."

"We agree to disagree," Pagano said, "but at the end of the day we leave every meeting with a handshake and a hug. It's not about me. It's not about Ryan. It's not about any one person. I've spoken from Day 1 about team first, individual second."

Who saw this coming?

"It's a great, feel-good story," Irsay said.

It's going to be spectacular, one way or the other.

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