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Indianapolis preparing for Pagano's return

Indianapolis preparing for Pagano's return

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Colts head coach Chuck Pagano can resume coaching whenever he's ready.

On Thursday, Dr. Larry Cripe, told The Associated Press that Pagano had been cleared to return and that it was up to the coach and the Colts to determine when that will happen, and how much Pagano will do. Pagano's physician is not imposing any restrictions, either.

Pagano is expected to return to the team complex as early as Monday.

``Medically, I see no reason he cannot come back when he's ready to try and come back,'' Cripe said. ``Coach has done a great job with this, and I trust him.''

Cripe said he gave Pagano the good news the last time they met, though he declined to say when that happened.

Pagano has not been on the sideline since a Sept. 23 loss to Jacksonville, Indy's only home defeat this season.

Three days later, he was diagnosed with leukemia and immediately began the first of three rounds of chemotherapy. Players and most of the assistant coaches were told Oct. 1, the day the Colts returned from their bye, that Pagano was taking an indefinite leave from the team and that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians would fill in as interim coach. The team has left the light on in Pagano's office since then.

On Nov. 5, Cripe said the disease was in ``complete remission'' and that Pagano would undergo two more rounds of chemotherapy to ensure all the cancer cells had been destroyed. Pagano is scheduled to take oral medication and be closely monitored by doctors for the next two years.

During treatment, Pagano stayed in communication with players and coaches through phone calls and text messages; watched tape of practices and games; occasionally showed up at the team complex; and has spoken to the team before and after home games.

All the while, doctors continuously monitored Pagano's white blood-cell count to make sure the recovery was progressing.

But the Colts always pegged the Dec. 30 regular-season finale against Houston as the date they hoped to have Pagano back on the sideline - a goal that now appears likely to be met.

``I love that guy and I would love to see him in person on the sideline,'' Cripe said when asked if he would attend the Dec. 30 game. ``To me, the bottom line is that he's done what he needed to do, and he's done it with the clear goal that he wants to be coaching as soon as he can.''

Officially, the Colts (9-5) have not said when Pagano will return.

On Wednesday, Arians told reporters the team was keeping its fingers crossed and that it would be a ``great Christmas present'' if Pagano returned on Christmas Eve. When asked if he was ready to coach his final game, Arians responded: ``Heck, yes.''

Players are eager to get him back, too.

``It's going to be crazy. It's going to be a great moment, just having him back on an everyday basis with the team, knowing that's what he really wants, back with us coaching and back on the sideline,'' safety Antoine Bethea said. ``Obviously we know it's going to be emotional. It's going to be a great time.''

Cripe has given Pagano the same advice he does all of his patients: Don't try to do too much too fast.

``Look, if you get pooped out, adjust,'' he said.

What Pagano will find when he gets back is a vastly different team.

In early October, many still considered Indy one of the league's worst teams. Now, the Colts are a confident group on the verge of clinching their first playoff berth of the past-Peyton Manning era with a win Sunday at Kansas City or a Steelers loss.

The Colts are also chasing history.

With a win Sunday, Arians would tie the NFL record for victories after a midseason coaching change (nine) and the Colts would become only the fourth team to go from two or fewer wins to 10 or more the following season.

When Pagano was still coaching, Andrew Luck was trying to get comfortable in his new NFL surroundings, too. Now he owns the league's rookie records for most fourth-quarter comebacks (six), most victories by a No. 1 overall draft choice in the modern era (nine), and most yards passing in one game (433). He needs 26 attempts, 47 completions and 74 yards passing to break the NFL's single-season rookie records in all three categories. He still has an outside chance of catching Peyton Manning's rookie record for TD passes (28). Luck is currently 308 of 564 for 3,978 yards with 20 TDs and 18 interceptions.

But it was Pagano's illness that Arians credits for making all of this possible.

``They found a reason to play and when a team finds a reason to play, they'll overcome some things,'' Arians said. ``Chuck's illness took everybody, even strangers that we would bring off the street on Wednesday and we'd play on Sunday, and they'd fight their tails off. When you have guys playing hard for 60 minutes, you're going to win some games because most teams in this league don't play hard for 60 minutes.''

Most expect the transition from Arians back to Pagano to go smoothly. Coaches are anticipating the day-to-day operations will essentially remain unchanged from the script Pagano followed before taking his leave.

``We would always talk back and forth about what was good, what was not good and how we were going to try and defend our next opponent. So we're going to go back to that,'' defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said.

He added: ``When he comes in, we're ready to roll, same thing. It's uncharted territory I guess you would say.''

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Report: Wizards players Thomas Bryant, Gary Payton II test positive for coronavirus

Report: Wizards players Thomas Bryant, Gary Payton II test positive for coronavirus

The Washington Wizards have their first reported cases of coronavirus, as center Thomas Bryant and Gary Payton II have tested positive, according to the Washington Post.

The timing of the tests prevented Bryant and Payton II from traveling with the Wizards to Orlando, FL as they entered the NBA's restart bubble at Disney World. The team, however, is hopeful they can join them before long.

Head coach Scott Brooks first dropped a hint on Thursday night when addressing the media on a video conference call from Orlando.

"A couple of guys did not make the trip. Hopefully they will be joining us soon. But with the CBA medical [restrictions] I can't get into who did not participate," Brooks said.

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That suggested coronavirus was the likely reason. If it were another injury, he could specify just as they did with Bradley Beal days earlier when they explained why he wasn't going to play in the restart. A basketball injury also wouldn't prevent them from traveling.

Coronavirus generally stays in the system for 10 to 14 days. It is unclear when Bryant and Payton II contracted the virus, or when they tested positive. The Wizards' first exhibition game is July 22. They play their first regular season game on July 31.

Bryant and Payton II are the first cases involving the Wizards made public. It is not known whether any others have tested positive previously, as team officials have deferred to league statements on related matters.

There have been dozens of positive tests throughout the league in recent months, including some that shut down practice facilities.

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One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

As it stands now, the Washington Redskins are one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. According to Forbes, the team is worth a whopping $2.2 million -- the 14th most-valuable franchise in all of sports, and the fifth most valuable team in the NFL.

With the team currently conducting an internal review of the moniker, it's worth wondering if a new name would hurt the value of the team. According to Randy Vataha -- the president of Game Plan LLC., which helps the service of helping people buy and sell sports franchises -- it shouldn't.

"I don't think it will really hurt the team's value ultimately," Vataha said to NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.

Vataha explained that each franchise's actual name has little to do with its value.

"We're big believers and have a lot of data that indicates that yes, branding is important, yes, names are important in a lot of ways, but what's really important is the size and the demographics of the market," Vataha said.

The analyst gave the example of New York sports franchises, such as the Knicks and Rangers, and how they are consistently two of the most valuable teams in all of sports. Why? Because they play in New York City.

"The New York teams are all the top teams in every league," Vataha said. "The NFL is a little different because of how they share revenue, but the New York teams are always at the top, not because of the names of the teams. It's because of the marketplace.

"You'll have a lot of people, you'll have a lot of social media, you'll have a lot of political commentary back and forth," Vataha continued. "But at the end of the day, the core value is decided by the size of the market and the demographics of the market."

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This past week, a report surfaced from the Washington Post that the Redskins three minority owners were looking to sell their stake in the team, citing that they were "not happy being a partner" with Redskins majority owner Dan Snyder. The three minority owners -- Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman -- make up approximately 40 percent of the team's ownership group.

Vataha said he understands both sides of the argument surrounding the team. Additionally, he said that the safest financial decision for the team would be to keep the name, despite all the public backlash they've received over the past couple of weeks.

RELATED: VATAHA DOESN'T BELIEVE SNYDER WILL BE FORCED OUT

However, immediately after, Vataha emphasized once more that he doesn't envision the name change truly making a big difference value-wise.

"I understand the arguments on both sides pretty well," Vataha said. "But I think from the financial standpoint, the safest thing is never change it. But, on the other hand, I don't think it'll be a big hit to value any way at all."

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