Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sidelined: Overcoming Odds through Unity, Passion, and Perseverance By Chuck Pagano - Book Review

From the publisher: Chuck Pagano, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, has become one of the most inspiring, intriguing personalities in the game of football. Only three games into his rookie season in 2012, Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia, sidelined by the side effects chemotherapy and months of recovery. Undeterred, Pagano didn’t let the confines of his hospital bed keep him from coaching: texts, calls, and emails kept him in constant contact with players, staff, and assistants. Motivated to be just as strong and determined as their ailing coach the team started winning game after game, compiling an impressive 11-5 record. The players weren’t the only ones touched by Pagano’s hope and strength of character. Inspired by the tenacity and toughness of their beloved coach, a newcomer to town, thousands of fans united to form Chuckstrong, a movement that soon raised millions to help beat cancer. Pagano, fueled by his faith, his family, and his love of football, returned to lead the Colts to another winning season and the divisional playoffs in 2013. With Pagano’s practical lessons on living, loving, and leading, Sidelined, which includes an 8-page color photo section, inspires us all to stay in the game and never accept defeat.

With the release of Payton Manning in 2012, the Indianapolis Colts effectively wiped the slate clean.  They hired a new coach (Chuck Pagano), drafted a new franchise quarterback (Andrew Luck), and began a new run of what they hoped would be a return to excellence.  In the early stages of the 2012 season, Coach Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia, and thanks to a tweet from punter Pat McAfee, his battle with cancer took a very public turn with the #Chuckstrong movement.  Sidelined is the story of that season and Pagano's journey in his fight to overcome cancer, and his how his faith in God plays a role in his life (his faith is an understated part of the story).

Sidelined isn't an autobiography. Rather, it's a look inside an amazing season wrapped up in a tremendous personal struggle.  It examines the reconstruction of a formerly successful team while their coach was hospitalized.  It details the highs and lows of a season full of miracle comebacks and unexpected success (at least it was unexpected to the national pundits).  It also details the strength of a man who became the center of the rallying cry #Chuckstrong and how a team and community rallied to raise money and support each other in overcoming cancer.  Building on the themes of  Trust, Loyalty, and Respect, in addition to Faith, Family, and Football, Pagano developed strong personal relationships among the Colts, where the team truly treated each other like family.

Sidelined is a story about a man overcoming a terrible disease.  It's also a story of a team rallying to its head coach.  Finally, it's a story of a city embracing a team.  Together, they achieved victory in many areas.

As an aside, proceeds from this book go to cancer research and other charities.

I recommend this book to football fans, to those who are struggling with cancer or know someone who is, and to people living in the Indianapolis area.

I received a preview copy of this book from Zondervan and the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.

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