INDIANAPOLIS — The friendship started more than 16 years ago, when both were assistant coaches with the Cleveland Browns. One was the secondary coach, the other was offensive coordinator. The two remained close to the point that, in 2012, the Indianapolis Colts‘ new coach was able to convince Bruce Arians to get off the lake and away from his golf game so he could be the team’s offensive coordinator.
“Probably not,” Arians said when asked if he would have gotten back into coaching had Chuck Pagano not called. “Yeah, I don’t think my wife would have let me. She loved Indy, so it was easy.”
There have been countless laughs between the two, emotional talks about each other’s health and about the job each has done in his current position — Pagano as head coach of the Colts and Arians as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
On Sunday, the two friends will meet for the second time since Arians left the Colts at end of the 2012 season to become coach of the Cardinals, when the two winless teams face off at Lucas Oil Stadium. Arians got the upper hand in the first meeting, when the Cardinals beat the visiting Colts 40-11 in 2013.
“I love the guy like a brother,” Pagano said. “We were lucky. The stars lined up perfectly. He was available, so we were very, very lucky to get Bruce.”
Arians stepped in and led the Colts to a 9-3 record while Pagano battled cancer in 2012. Arians, too, has dealt with health issues. The 64-year-old had surgery to remove a cancerous…
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