When the Saints and Bucs did this historic war reenactors version of The Battle of New Orleans, I don't think too many of us were surprised to see the field-level cameras catch Bruce Arians on the sideline. After all, we're used to it. And it's not like he retired or died. He simply
got forced out by Tom Brady decided he wanted the quite, normal life of a front office employee with no job title and no function or responsibility anyone can explain. So he can pretty much come and go as he pleases, right?
Wrong. According to the way league rules are written, he was not supposed to be there. So it's less like a senior partner being welcomed back at the law firm he started long after he stopped working with clients, and more like that weird kid showing up at the high school after graduating.
For which the league has decided to discipline Arians with a strongly worded letter that is going in his Permanent File:
Source - Arians was properly in the bench area generally, but he was clearly in the white stripe reserved for officials, players, and coaches during the altercation. He also was clearly involved in the verbal aspect of the kerfuffle.
The specifics of the warning aren’t known at this point. Presumably, the Buccaneers face potential penalties during the game, and Arians faces potential discipline in the form of a fine or possibly even a banishment from the bench area. ...
The league realizes that there’s a potential problem from having a former head coach serve as an unofficial agitator and/or otherwise behaving as if he’s still the coach even though he isn’t. Good for the league to shut it down, swiftly and decisively.
Which ... whatever. In the grand scheme of things, this is parking in the red zone. But the kind of thing the NFL chooses to treat like Grand Theft Auto. I speak for a lot of people when I say I was infinitely more worked up when MLB forced the Red Sox to kick an 87 year old Johnny Pesky out of the dugout after 57 years in uniform than Bruce Arians' exact whereabouts on game day.
But then again, we're us and Antonio Brown is Antonio Brown. He's got a history the rest of us don't have:
As they say in the trailer for the sequel to every action movie, for AB, this is … personal. And he was not about to waste the opportunity to clap at Arians:
I'm going to confess here that I only speak conversational emoji. 100. Fire. ROLF. Poop, and so on. I'm still using English like the old that I am. So if I can decipher the hieroglyphics of this, he's saying … what? Arians pointed fingers at him and AB is pointing back? Shots fired? Explosions? Alert? I really have no idea and can't put this into a coherent thought. But no doubt it's some variation of:
Oh, so it was such a bad thing for me to refuse to go back into a game when I was injured, get upset on the sidelines, cause a major disruption, then tear off the field while stripping naked to the waste, huh? Well what about you causing a big scene during a fight, hmmmm?
Or words to that effect. Brown sees some sort of moral equivalency, and by golly, he was not going to sit there quietly on his hands without saying his peace. Which is going over about as well as you'd expect for a guy who ran out of bridges to burn:
So this pretty much constitutes a big swing and a miss for Brown. But it does give us some insight into what his days are like now that we're about 10 months removed from that meltdown in New York. He's pretty much sitting around looking for ways to argue the Bucs did him dirty. Even when the fourth coach (out of four) he quit on gets a letter for standing in the wrong place. I guess hoping that he'll prove his point and get back on the field. Not being an incorrigible narcissist and an uncoachable manchild might have been the easier approach, but here's hoping this works instead.