INDIANAPOLIS – Andrew Luck has joined the shaved squad, too.
Nearly three dozen players on the Indianapolis Colts have shaved their heads in a show of support for head coach Chuck Pagano, who is undergoing treatment for a form of leukemia.
Luck became a new member of the no-hair club Wednesday morning. Players and coaches were not available for comment because they were headed to Jacksonville, but a team spokesman confirmed that Luck will indeed look quite different when he takes off his helmet Thursday night.
“Buzzed heads and orange locks in honor of Chuck,” team owner Jim Irsay tweeted. He also included a link to a photo showing many of the players who had gotten buzzed.
Indianapolis (5-3) has gone to great lengths to give their ailing coach encouragement.
Reggie Wayne wore orange gloves against Green Bay, the ribbon color used to raise awareness for leukemia. Nameplates above players’ lockers at the team complex now include orange stickers with Pagano’s initials in the middle of Indy’s trademark horseshoe. They sent Pagano a game ball after their surprising win over the Packers on Oct. 4. Irsay placed signs reading #Chuckstrong in each end zone of Lucas Oil Stadium, and the team has been trying to raise money to support leukemia research.
So when Pagano showed up in the Colts’ locker room Sunday without his grayish hair or trademark goatee, player director of engagement David Thornton decided to bring in a barber following Tuesday’s practice.
The idea was an immediate hit – and seems to be growing larger by the day.
About two dozen players, including kicker Adam Vinatieri, defensive end Cory Redding, Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea and punter Pat McAfee, left the team headquarters Tuesday night with no hair. It’s a new look for McAfee, who had a ponytail until last fall when he cut it off and donated the hair to Locks of Love, a cancer charity.
“We haven’t been together long... But we’re in this together,” McAfee wrote on Twitter.
On Wednesday morning, more players joined the contingent, including Luck, the No. 1 overall draft pick and this week’s AFC offensive player of the week.
At this rate, the Colts could have a whole team without hair playing Thursday night at the Jaguars. Interim coach Bruce Arians, one of Pagano’s close friends and a prostate cancer survivor, doesn’t have any hair, either, though he’s donned that look all season.
Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia Sept. 26 and hospitalized for treatment until Oct. 21. He watched the next two Colts games from home before doctors allowed him to attend Sunday. Pagano watched the 23-20 win over Miami from the coaches’ box and spoke to the team before and afterward.
“I’ve got circumstances. You guys understand it, I understand it,” Pagano said in an emotional postgame speech. “It’s already beat. It’s already beat. My vision that I’m living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then lift the Lombardi Trophy several times. I’m dancing at two more weddings and we’re hoisting that trophy together, men. Congratulations, I love all of you.”
Arians has said the Colts hope to have Pagano back on the sideline Dec. 30, Indy’s regular season finale against Houston.