December 31, 2017 / 11:31 PM / 10 months ago

Two head coaches gone as Raiders fire Del Rio, Colts dump Pagano

(Reuters) - Jack Del Rio was close to tears as he revealed he had been fired as head coach by the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, shortly after the National Football League (NFL) team completed their final game of the season.

Dec 31, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano reacts as he walks off the field after the game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Del Rio’s departure came just three hours after the Indianapolis Colts said they also had sacked their head coach Chuck Pagano.

The 57-year-old Pagano, who had been in charge of Indianapolis for six seasons, was widely expected to be sacked after the Colts posted a 4-12 record that ended with a 22-13 win over the Houston Texans.

But Del Rio’s sacking after three seasons was less predictable, coming less than a year after he signed a four-year contract extension following a successful 2016, when the Raiders went 12-4 and finally made the playoffs after a 13-season drought.

But the team regressed in 2017, going 6-10.

An emotional Del Rio, 54, said it had been a dream to coach his “childhood team” but he acknowledged the reality of the business.

“It’s a results business, I understand,” he told a press conference, his voice cracking.

Del Rio went 25-24 in his three seasons with the Raiders.

Local media reported that former Raiders coach Jon Gruden was likely to replace Del Rio.

Gruden coached the Raiders from 1998-2001, before guiding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory in the 2002 season Super Bowl. He most recently has been working as a television analyst.

The Colts, meanwhile, thanked Pagano for his body of work, while at the same time showing him the door.

“Chuck’s first season was one of the more inspirational stories in NFL history as he courageously battled and overcame leukemia,” Colts Owner & CEO Jim Irsay said in a statement.

Pagano, speaking before his firing had been announced, said: “I’m just grateful I’m on this side of the dirt,” referring to his recovery from leukemia.

Pagano guided the Colts to a 56-46 overall record (including the post-season) after joining the team in 2012.

He led them to three consecutive 11-5 seasons and playoff appearances from 2012-14, which included the 2014 AFC Championship game.

But the team failed to compile a winning record the past three seasons as they were hampered by multiple injuries to quarterback Andrew Luck.

Del Rio and Pagano are likely to be joined by several other sacked head coaches over the next couple of days.

Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants was the only head coach fired during the season.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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