ESPN’s Jenna Laine debunked it in her report, which recapped Brady’s short retirement, return to the Bucs, and topsy-turvy 2022 season. Arians, 70, retired on March 30, just 13 days after Brady announced his comeback, which stoked the Brady-Arians rift narrative in the media.
“A team source did not deny friction existed between Arians and Brady, but told ESPN it was exaggerated,” Laine wrote. “Brady returning was not related to Arians’ retirement, according to the source, and Brady was aware of Arians’ plans to retire before the quarterback made his announcement.”
Arians “didn’t want to leave his coaching staff in a bind” with Brady retired and rebuild, Laine wrote. Once Brady returned, Arians felt “more comfortable stepping into a new role”, Laine added.
In addition, the Bucs managed to keep both offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and then-defensive coordinator Todd Bowles — both of whom were candidates for head coaching jobs elsewhere. Arians still had a successor in the building when Brady walked back into One Buc Place.
Bowles took the head coaching job as Arians transitioned to the Bucs front office. Arians coached Bowles at Temple, and they became coaching colleagues over four decades.
“I wanted to ensure when I walked away that Todd Bowles would have the best opportunity to succeed,” Arians said, per Laine. “So many head coaches come into situations where they are set up for failure, and I didn’t want that for Todd.”
Brady on Arians: ‘He’s a Big Reason Why I Came Here’
Amid the coaching transition, Brady emphasized his appreciation for Arians.
“He’s a big reason why I came here. He’s just a great person, he’s a great leader, he’s obviously a great coach,” Brady said via Laine. “I have a great relationship with him. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Arians played a significant role in the Bucs’ attempt to land Brady as a free agent in 2020 after 20 years with the New England Patriots. Brady led a high-powered offense with Arians’ “no risk it, no biscuit” philosophy”, which averaged more than 30 points per game over two seasons. The Bucs went 30-15, including the playoffs, and won a Super Bowl in that span.
How the Brady-Arians Rift Rumors Started
Reports of a rift between Brady and Arians surfaced after Brady’s retirement in February 2022.
Rich Ohrnberger, a FOX Sports radio host and former Patriots teammate of Brady’s, reported that the “honeymoon was over in Tampa” and that “the relationship was souring” between Brady and Arians. Ohrnberger also reported tensions between Arians and Brady, plus Leftwich, stemmed from game planning issues.
“Apparently, while Arians was rehabbing the Achilles in the early mornings, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and Brady would work on the week’s game plan,” Ohrnberger wrote. “Arians would later come in and take the red pen to work they’d done. The QB and OC felt undermined, there was tension.”
Arians shot down that rumor in an interview with Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Arians also emphasized that he respected Brady and Leftwich working on the game plan.