BRUCE ARIANS: I knew something was really missing in my life.
That’s when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came calling … and Arians couldn’t resist … There was just one catch … Before formally offering him the job, the franchise insisted on overseeing a medical evaluation … Highly unusual for a coach.
BRUCE ARIANS: I had to take a complete physical and – and I got a C. I was happy as hell. I’ve been an F for ten years.
Jokes aside, Arians got a clean bill of health from the doctor. Now, he just needed permission from one other person.
HBO’s ANDREA KREMER: Did he need your blessing to take this job in Tampa?
CHRIS ARIANS (Bruce’s wife): Well, he didn’t need it. But if he wants me with him, he has to get it.
BRUCE ARIANS: I wouldn’t have done it without it.
Arians’ return to the NFL has brought the spotlight back to Tampa … and to a team that hasn’t made the postseason since 2007 – the league’s second longest playoff drought.
But Arians is also garnering attention for another reason.
At a time when the NFL has only four minority head coaches … down 50 percent from last season … and the lowest it’s been since 2003 … The kid from York who grew up with mostly black friends … has surrounded himself with a coaching staff that features of an unprecedented collection of black coaches in leadership positions …
ANDREA KREMER: You have a black offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator, and assistant head coach.
BRUCE ARIANS: They’re just the best guys that I know. And it was– it was partly by design, but it was like, ‘If I can get these guys we’re set.’
ANDREA KREMER: What role did race play in these hires?
BRUCE ARIANS: Really none.
TODD BOWLES: We just happen to be good football coaches who are African American. It’s not I’m a black coach or I’m a white coach.
Todd Bowles is the Bucs defense coordinator … and Byron Leftwich is the offensive coordinator.
BYRON LEFTWICH: He’s not just in here tryin’ to fix the minority coaching problem in the National Football League. You know, B.A. ain’t doin’ nothin’ if he don’t feel it. If he don’t feel right about it, he’s not gonna do it. So, for all of us to be here, in his eyes, we’ve all earned this. He don’t give you anything. (laugh) Like, he’s not layin’ nothin’ on a platter for ’em, if you really know him.
ANDREA KREMER: I sense there’s a part of you that kinda wants to make a strong message, ‘Look at all these black coaches that I’m surrounding myself with in significant positions.’
BRUCE ARIANS: Same with female coaches. You know–
ANDREA KREMER: You have two female coaches on your staff as well.
BRUCE ARIANS: Uh-huh.
ANDREA KREMER: What’s the message that you’re trying to put out there?
BRUCE ARIANS: Great teachers shouldn’t be held back because of gender or race. If they can teach they should have an opportunity.
ANDREA KREMER: There’s– a feeling out there– that maybe you’re just taking this job to promote these black assistant coaches.
BRUCE ARIANS: I’ve been promotin’ my coaches forever, anytime. And– I don’t– I think if you sit on the practice field with us, you’d find out I wasn’t. ‘Cause I still get after their ass pretty good.
Arians practice SOT: Get that water out of the Goddamn huddle!!
Still, Arians insists that his primary concern is winning football games … It only remains to be seen, at what cost …
ANDREA KREMER: You’ve never been a head coach and not ended up in the hospital at one point in the season, correct?
BRUCE ARIANS: Yeah. It might happen again, but it won’t be that serious. I won’t miss work.
ANDREA KREMER: Why do you seem to take such a cavalier attitude about your health?
BRUCE ARIANS: You can die at any moment doing anything. I mean, so why not do what you love to do. -If I die on game day, have a drink. Celebrate.