6:54 PM EDT, August 4, 2012
ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — Colts coach Chuck Pagano put the emphasis on safety Saturday.
Turns out, it wasn't just his players he was worried about when the first cracks of thunder rolled over the practice field at Anderson University.
Team officials blew the horn, traditionally marking the end of practice, and Pagano immediately sent players to the indoor complex where they changed out of full pads and finished their workout in helmets and shoulder pads.
"Player safety is of the utmost importance," Pagano said. "We're not going to jeopardize anybody's safety, anybody's health, to get the work done."
Some people saw the rain as a welcome relief as this summer's drought continues.
But in Indiana, weather concerns have been a deadly problem recently.
Last August, seven people were killed and dozens were injured when a stage collapsed in high winds at the Indiana State Fair. In October 2010, a Notre Dame student filming football practice was killed when gusty winds toppled the aerial lift he was using.
So when a severe thunderstorm warning was issued in nearby Marion County, officials at the Division III school, located about 30 miles northeast of the Colts' team complex, began monitoring the weather at an emergency mobile communications unit near the practice field.
When the thunder roared, head trainer Dave Hammer told Pagano that the storm was about 10 minutes away.
That was close enough for Pagano, who was worried about the four men filming practice around the field on scissor lifts.
"Absolutely, get down," he said. "I've been at some practices before where they start coming down and they say, 'Go back up,' That was a long time ago, but we wanted to get everybody down."
Besides, Pagano had a personal reason for sending everyone inside.
"I've got my dad (Sam) here, he's 70-something years old," Pagano said. "I said, 'I don't even have a plot picked out yet, so we can't lose him yet.'"
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