October 27, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Bruce Arians on Tom Brady’s future with Bucs, and lots more

Bruce Arians had plenty to say on a wide range of topics in an interview with The Times at his home the morning after coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory Sunday in Super Bowl LV:

On Tom Brady’s future with the franchise: “I think he’ll be coming back for a while. It’s amazing. Get a little knee cleaned up, and his physical abilities have, if anything, gotten better.”

On next season: “If we just keep our guys, which we will, then we’ll have a great shot at repeating.”

On his loyalty to players: “I’ve been accused that that is a fault. Got fired in Pittsburgh because I was too loyal to Ben [Roethlisberger]. If that’s a problem, you’ve got the problem. I don’t have a problem. I get very close to my quarterbacks. My dad taught me one thing: You have your name and your loyalty, and those are the most important things you have.”

On being, at 68, the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl: “They keep saying that, but unless I look in the mirror, I can’t see it at all. I never feel that way.”

On losing three of four games during a stretch in November: “That bye coming at Week 13, we were tired, man. It showed up in the Rams game, in the Chiefs game, we were tired and needed a break. We just took the entire week off. I said, ‘Go home, get ready, because we’re going to grind this thing out. We have a lot of football left. Take the whole week off, rest up and get ready to go.”

On his young grandchildren: “When they say, ‘I love you, Pops,’ that’s way more than the Super Bowl. Eating dirt. Teaching them how to spit. ‘Don’t let Mommy see this. Spit it out.’ We had a bunch of neighbors [come by] Super Bowl morning, and I’m out there pushing the swing and playing while people were driving by. ‘Hey, good luck, Coach!’ They were probably like, ‘What the hell’s he doing out in the yard?’”

On COVID protocols: “On the first day, the elevator says one person. The elevator door opens and it’s a team employee and Gronk. I just ripped their ass. ‘You … guys can’t read? That … doesn’t say “two,” it says “one,”’ The one guy’s eyes get big and Gronk says, ‘Nice to meet you, Coach.’

“I had to be the mask police. I got so tired of being the mask police all the way through September. I said, ‘All right, I’m done. Somebody else has to be the mask police.’ It was crazy.”

“I want to get on a damn truck and ride through the city with the damn trophy, man. Watch the fans. This is their trophy.”

Bruce Arians

On a bye-week golf outing with Brady that had to be scrapped: “That really upset me. We weren’t allowed to play golf. We had a great trip planned. We were going to fly out, play golf, fly right back and get tested again. We were going to go up to the lake [Lake Oconee in Georgia]. The league said we couldn’t be on the golf course together. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, we can get in an office for eight to 12 hours, but we can’t go outside to play golf?’”

On worrying about players getting coronavirus: “You’d get a text and it was like, ‘Oh, he just sprained an ankle. Thank God.’”

On “Champa Bay”: “When the Lightning won the [Stanley] Cup, they didn’t get to play a game here. They played it all in Canada. The Rays won the pennant, but they played the World Series in Texas. We were on the road the whole time, but the Super Bowl was here. You could feel it in the city for a while.

“The icing — well, not the icing on the cake, but the icing off the cake is we can’t have a parade. First Super Bowl team winners that can’t have a parade, because of the pandemic. It’s melancholy or whatever it is, but I want to get on a damn truck and ride through the city with the damn trophy, man. Watch the fans. This is their trophy.”

Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians holds the Vince Lombardi trophy after the Super Bowl.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

On whether he was a “good kid” growing up: “No, I was the worst one. There were five of us [siblings], but I was the black sheep, there’s no doubt about that. I had my stomach pumped three times before I was 3.

“I got it pumped because I drank paint twice. I wasn’t allowed to have milk. I was allergic. My dad would always say, ‘Hey, drink your milk. Get big and strong.’ I’m like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’

“So they’re painting the house, and I saw that can and I just drank it. It was white paint that time. Then the next time, Mom loves pistachio ice cream. I said, can’t have any of that either. So they had green paint this time, so I drank that.”

On hiring female assistant coaches in Arizona and Tampa Bay: “One of the things I’m proudest of is breaking down the door for women in the NFL, because that door needed to be broken down. Best schoolteachers I ever had were women. I had some great men, too, but .… If you can teach, you can coach.

“Any player in the league will look at a coach and say, ‘How are you going to make me better?’ Do they really care what gender or race you are? If you’re going to make them better, they’re going to listen.

“Ours are fantastic. There are so many quality, qualified women out there that deserve a shot.”

On Sarah Thomas, the first female official to work a Super Bowl game: “You know what’s funny? When I was first asked whether I thought a woman could coach in the league, I said, ‘Hell, yeah.’ Because one of the best receiver coaches I ever knew was Dot Murphy [of Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss.] Sarah’s best friends with her.

“I told Sarah, ‘You’d better give Dot a big hug for me.’ I used to go down there and clinic when her husband was head coach and she was receivers coach. We drank a lot of beer together and talked a lot of ball. There was no doubt a woman can coach, because I saw it first hand.

“I might have had Sarah in her first game. Ripped into her really good, like I do all officials. The guys were like, ‘Whew, you’re breaking her in pretty good.’ I was like, ‘Hey, she’s got a striped shirt on now. You get it, I don’t care.’ But she’s a hell of an official.”