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Bruce Arians is Still Insisting He Wasn't Fired by Tom Brady and You Have to Feel for the Man

Stacy Revere. Getty Images.

When someone has outlived their usefulness to you, letting them go can be an act of tender mercy. It can reach a point where a dignified ending is preferable, and keeping them around constitutes cruelty on your part. Think of a loved one who has lost all their faculties and deserves 24 hour care. Or some once proud entertainment legend who gets trotted out on stage long after they should be in the public eye, tarnishing their memory. Or that time Mr. Burns wanted to punish Homer Simpson, so rather than firing him, he kept him on the job just to degrade and humiliate him:

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(Is it just me, or is Smithers one devilishly handsome silver fox?) In 1984, O'Brien explains to Winston Smith that the state doesn't make people who've committed Thought Crimes disappear. They force them to publicly confess, show themselves to be good citizens, and only then disappear. 

I bring this up because we've reached that point with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and poor, hapless Bruce Arians. As we all witnessed early in the year, Tom Brady wanted him gone as prerequisite of him coming back to the Bucs. 

On a Saturday in mid-March, Brady just happened to swing by a Manchester United game. By an amazing coincidence, Man U is owned by Bucs' owner Malcolm Glazer, and the two spoke. By Monday, Brady announced his unretirement. And I predicted at the time that Arians would be allowed to graciously step down from Tampa's head coaching job:

The only way any of this adds up is that Arians either is totally cucked this year, he "decides" to "retire" himself in order save face, or he gets outright fired at Brady's request. Regardless, there was a quid pro quo at that soccer game. And it involved luring Brady back with a guarantee of more control than any player has ever had in NFL history. No matter how much they lie about it.

Which extended my Consecutive Correct Prediction Streak, which goes back decades:

But sadly for Arians, a quiet, dignified, face-saving ride off into the sunset hasn't happened. Instead, he's been condemned to a life of pretending to have a job, giving interviews, and constantly having to deny that what so obviously happened, never happened. 

Heavy - In the span of 40 days, Tom Brady announced his retirement on February 1, 2022, only to return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a move that coincided with Arians handing the head coaching reigns to Todd Bowles, and elevating him into a personnel position in the Bucs’ front office. 

Arians’ promotion into a position alongside general manager Jason Licht didn’t stop speculation that Brady somehow “pushed” Arians out of the role he loved.

“We have an absolutely great relationship,” Arians told Heavy … [and] the rumors of a feud behind the scenes or a fractured relationship with Brady were the byproduct of people on the outside “having different ideas.” He insists there has been no fracture in the relationship, and while he’s no longer the head coach, he’s working closer than ever with Brady. 

“I stand behind the quarterbacks every day in practice now every single day,” Arians said. “And we talk all the time. There was nothing to any of that stuff. …

“I don’t like the hiring process,” Arians explained. “Once Tom came back, it was very easy for me to turn the whole thing over to Todd [Bowles]. Succession was very important to me. Being able to keep my hand in the pile, and let someone else coach the team.”

Let's review. Arians took the unprecedented step of waiting 40 days to retire from the sidelines, not because he expected to be the Bucs head coach for the foreseeable future, only to get removed to placate Brady. But because he didn't want to hand over the controls to Todd Bowles until he knew Bowles would have a Super Bowl caliber QB. In other words, he was perfectly prepared to go forward with some unknown quantity under center. But once he knew the team would have another shot to win, then he decided he didn't need all that success and the glory that comes with it. Got it. That is perfectly in keeping with everything we know about human motivation and behavior. 

Of course, that doesn't explain all the rest of it. The timing of it. The fact that two weeks into Brady's Tampa career, the Bucs offense looked nothing like the one Arians had spent his whole live developing and every bit like the one Brady had mastered in New England. Or the fact that his successor just happens to be a defensive coach who presumably will stay the all the way out of Brady's face and let the GOAT run everything on his side of the ball. Mainly it doesn't explain why Brady wants to punish Arians by letting him hang around and doing such an awful job of convincing us he wasn't forced out by his franchise quarterback. 

It's a sad, sad situation. If anyone in that organization has even a drop of the milk of human kindness, they'll throw Arians a party with a nice ice cream cake, sign a card for him, and send him off to enjoy his retirement years. This is just cruel.

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