Just one year after leaving the Arizona Cardinals high and dry, Bruce Arians returned to the NFL to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Back in 2017, as the season was winding down, the Arizona Cardinals received some bad news. The charismatic Bruce Arians was calling it quits after five years. The departure of the franchise’s all-time winningest head coach would mark the end of one of the most successful periods in Cardinals history.
Arians admitted that it was his family who had led him to the difficult decision to leave the game that he loves. His wife Chris, in a casual conversation, had pointed out that their son Jake was about to turn 40 years old. At that moment, Arians realized that he had excluded himself from the lives of his loved ones for far too long.
Apparently, Arians got bored without football in his life. Exactly one year and one week after abandoning the Cards, the 66-year old returned to the NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offered him their head-coaching position, and Arians gladly accepted.
Conspiracy theorists could suggest that Arians did Arizona dirty. Could he really have gotten disenchanted with home life so quickly? Is it possible that his “retirement” was merely a contrived scheme to get him out of the final year of his Cardinals contract?
It stands to reason that Arians may have thought that the Cards were on the decline, and he wanted to jump ship before things got really bad. After posting a winning record in his first three campaigns (2013-15), the organization’s win total had taken a dip. The Cardinals emerged victorious just seven times in 2016, and managed only eight triumphs in 2017.
Arians may have also been frightened by the thought of losing two of Arizona’s best offensive performers. In fact, starting quarterback Carson Palmer did hang up his cleats just one day after Arians opted to retire. There were also rumors that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald would call it a career, but the Cards legend ultimately elected to continue playing.
Bad karma may have followed Arians to Tampa Bay. Thus far in 2019, the Buccaneers are a complete non-factor in the NFC playoff picture. Arians most likely envisioned much better results for himself and his new team when he decided to come back into the league.
It’s quite possible that Arians really did believe that he didn’t want to coach anymore. Maybe the Cardinals wanted to move on from the five-year marriage as well. Only Arians and the Arizona front office know what the true story is, and the rest of us can only theorize about what really went down.