NFL Insider on Bruce Arians: ‘I’m Not So Sure How Much He Did the Last Year’

Brady Arians

Getty Bruce Arians and Tom Brady converse during a 2021 game.

The rumored rift between Bruce Arians and Tom Brady that led to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach’s retirement isn’t true.

That’s what NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport maintains. He said on the “The Rich Eisen Show” that “I don’t think that’s true” that Brady, who unretired March 13, requested Arians to step down, which had been frequently reported by national mainstream media since Arians’ March 30 retirement.

Rapoport noted that Arians, 69, likely never “took a red pen” to offensive game plans by Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. Arians, the oldest head coach in the NFL at the time, also kept offensive play calling off his plate when he took the Bucs job in 2019 according to Pewter Report.

Arians Brady

GettyTom Brady and Bruce Arians led the Buccaneers to a 24-9 record and a Super Bowl win over the past two seasons.

“With all due respect to Bruce Arians, who I really, really like, I’m not so sure how much he did the last year,” Rapoport told Eisen. “I mean, he was the guy. He made all the decisions in the end, but Brady did the offense with Byron Leftwich.”

“That’s from several people who were there even before any of the stories came out,” Rapoport added. “There would be no reason for Brady to want Bruce Arians out because he wasn’t that involved.”

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Witnesses Add Up for Bucs?

Rapoport told Eisen that he heard a consistent story within the Bucs organization and Brady’s inner circle.

“I’ve talked to six or seven Bucs sources and people close to Brady who all say that’s completely ridiculous, and have said it was ridiculous throughout,” Rapoport said.

“Could everyone be lying to me? Sure. Theoretically possible that there could be some great vendetta to make sure that everyone tells the same lies to me at the same time,” Rapoport said as Eisen chuckled. “Or, Bruce Arians just got his team set, signed all the free agents, got Brady back, and handed [Todd] Bowles the best team he could imagine.”

Arians made it clear that he wanted to hand over the team to Bowles, a longtime colleague of Arians’ who came to Tampa with him in 2019. Bowles notably had interviews for head coaching jobs elsewhere this offseason, but the Bucs retained him as the defense coordinator.

“Succession has always been huge for me,” Arians told NBC Sports’ Peter King. “With the organization in probably the best shape it’s been in its history, with Tom Brady coming back  I’d rather see Todd in position to be successful and not have to take some [crappy] job. I’m probably retiring next year anyway, in February. So, I control the narrative right now. I don’t control it next February because [if] Brady gets hurt, we go 10-7, and it’s an open interview for the job  I got 31 [coaches and their] families that depend on me. My wife is big on not letting all those families down.'”

The Bucs didn’t have an ideal situation before Brady’s return on March 13 with a mad scramble for a quarterback and a host of free agents to re-sign.


Arians, Brady Say They’re on Good Terms

Both Arians and Brady indicated that they had a good working relationship upon Arians’ retirement.

“You are an incredible man and coach, and it was a privilege to play for you. You are a true NFL legend and pioneer,” Brady wrote in his March 30 Instagram post to Arians. Smart, tough, and loyal are a few of the words to describe your style. I will always remember the conversations we had when you recruited me two years ago and all of the things we discussed came true.  We all benefited from your leadership and guidance and I’m so proud of everything we accomplished. You were a huge part of the decision to join the Bucs and I’m forever grateful.”

Brady notably attended Arians’ retirement press conference on March 31.

“We have a great relationship,” Arians told the media on March 31. “All the players, every one of them has gotten cussed out, including him. That’s just part of me … People gotta write [expletive]. It couldn’t be further from the truth.”

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