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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Colts coach Chuck Pagano makes inspirational return after battling leukemia 12.25.12 at 7:59 am ET
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‘™¦ Colts coach Chuck Pagano, recovering from a battle with leukemia, returned to the team Monday for the first time since taking an indefinite leave on Oct. 1. Pagano will prepare his 10-5 team for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the conference-leading Texans.

“I feel great,” he said. “My weight is back. My energy is back and again, it’s just a blessing to be back here.”

An emotional Pagano said Monday ranks as the second-best day of his life, behind only his wedding, and he thanked assistant Bruce Arians for leading the team to a playoff berth.

“When I asked for Bruce to take over, I asked for him to kick some you-know-what and to do great,” Pagano said. “Damn, Bruce, you had to go and win nine games? Tough act to follow. Tough act to follow. Best in the history of the NFL. That’s what I have to come back to.”

Said team owner Jim Irsay: “I know Chuck is ready for this challenge. In speaking to his doctor multiple times, I know that the time is right for him to grab the reins, get the head coaching cap on and begin the journey. It’s been a miraculous story. It really is a book. It’s a fairytale. It’s a Hollywood script. It’s all those things but it’s real.”

‘™¦ Jets coach Rex Ryan, speaking to the media Monday, sidestepped the question of whether quarterback Tim Tebow asked to be taken out of the team’s wildcat package, but he did acknowledge that Tebow was not pleased about being passed over for the starting job following Mark Sanchez‘ benching.

“He was disappointed, there’s no question,” Ryan said. “He was disappointed that he was not named the starter, but with that being said, I’m not going to get into private conversations that I have with players, but it was my decision to use Jeremy Kerley in the wildcat, without question.

“But I’ll say this: I believe if Tim’s number was called, he would’ve went in and played. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

Tebow is expected to be released or traded after the season.

Meanwhile, the Jets reportedly plan to demote general manager Mike Tannenbaum after the season and have started reaching out to potential replacement candidates.

‘™¦ Former Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter — who did his best to get under the skin of the Patriots when he played for the Steelers and Dolphins — was released from a California jail Monday after paying a $70,000 debt to the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. Porter, 35, had been arrested over the weekend for allegedly writing a bad check.

Porter played 13 NFL seasons, including the last two with the Cardinals, before retiring this summer.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 25, 1971, the Bruins played on Christmas Day for the final time (that was the last year the NHL had Christmas games), posting a 5-1 victory over the Flyers led by a goal and three assists from which forward?

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