There were hugs, tears and standing ovations.
They were shared, shed and extended in the privacy of a Monday morning meeting with the players and coaches and a few hours later at a crowded press conference.
Then, it was back to work for Chuck Pagano and a staff that had carried on for three months while their boss fought the battle of his life.
Quickly, emotion yielded the floor. A routine took over, beginning with a meeting between Pagano and his assistants.
"We've got to get a game plan ready for Houston so we can come in (today) ready," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said.
The coaches planned to work into Monday evening, then return at 1 p.m. Tuesday after spending Christmas morning with their families.
"That's what we do," Arians said. "We grind. We've got to get the game plan in because it's a big game."
The bigger game was Sunday. At Arrowhead Stadium. Artistic, it wasn't. Utterly effective, it was.
Monday had long been the target date for Pagano's return to the Colts' complex. Being back on the sideline for the final regular season game - Sunday against Houston at Lucas Oil Stadium - was one of the motivational tools in his battle with leukemia.
The pressure, though, was on Arians and the players in Kansas City. The last thing anyone wanted was for a playoff berth to be riding on Pagano's first game back.
The 20-13 win over the Chiefs clinched the AFC's No. 5 playoff seed.
"I took it personally that we had to win that game because I didn't want him to have to come in this week and be in a really stressful, have-to-win situation," Arians said.
Then, the bravado of the former interim coach came out: "But we're still going to go beat the Texans."
Business as usual.
And that starts with Pagano in front of the room for meetings, addressing the players.
It's Pagano overseeing everything. Just as he did before being diagnosed with leukemia Sept. 26.
It's Pagano returning to his Monday night radio show.
It's Pagano rising early, reacquainting himself with the drive to the complex, the routine he followed before Sept. 26.
Arians arrived at the complex around 7 a.m. Monday.
Pagano "probably beat me here by two hours."
The man was eager to get back to work.
The best day of Pagano's life, he said, was July 1, 1989 when he married Tina.
Monday, he added, "was No. 2. Getting to pull up, drive in, get out of my car, the key fob worked. I was beginning to question whether it would or not.''
Now, the reins handed to Arians three months ago are back in Pagano's hands.
"When I asked Bruce to take over, I said, 'Now you've got to kick some you-know-what. You've got to do great,' " Pagano said.
Done. The Arians-led Colts went 9-3 while Pagano fought cancer. They're just the second team in NFL history to win at least 10 games after losing at least 14 the previous season.
Pagano looked at Arians, one of dozens of people in the audience at a news conference.
"Damn, Bruce, you had to go win nine games?" he said, laughing. "Tough act to follow. Tough act to follow. Best in the history of the NFL. That's what I have to come back to.
"I've got my hands full. ... I'll just try not to get in the way and do the very best I can to get back into this. It's really great to be back. Like a kid in a candy store.''
The kid is back with no restrictions, according to Larry Cripe of the IU Simon Cancer Center. His primary advice, according to Pagano, was "be prudent, be smart with how you attack this thing."
"Yeah, I'm ready to go," Pagano said. "I feel great. My weight's back. My energy's back."
The Colts have gotten to this point by remaining focused, listening to one voice, that of Arians.
Now, they'll listen to Pagano. Any chance the long-awaited and widely-embraced reunion will upset the chemistry?
"Nothing changes," said Reggie Wayne, one of Pagano's closest friends among the players. "Hopefully you'll see a team more motivated. Just by having Chuck out there, knowing what he went through, all the hard times and dedication he put in to get back here.
"When he left and coach Arians took over, it was the same intensity. Now he's putting it back the way it was. Just a different face talking in front of the team that we were already used to.''
Arians just smiles when the same question is posed to him.
"It's just added energy to it," he said. "At this time of the season, we're a tired, beat-up football team.
"We could use a little more energy and Chuck's going to give that to us."
Chappell also writes for the Indianapolis Star