“Just Unbelievable”

December 31st, 2022

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Fans attending Sunday’s showdown have an opportunity to show their love for a Buc icon who has endured a difficult year.

Flanked by friends and family, Bruce Arians will enter the Buccaneer Ring of Honor, joining former head coaches John McKay and Tony Dungy as symbols of the franchise’s glory days.

Bucco Bruce Arians

“It’s going to be very, very special,” Arians told me this week. “Thank God they’re giving me only two minutes to talk,”

There’s a lot to talk about.

In 2019, Arians left the broadcast booth and announced his arrival at One Buc Place in no uncertain terms. Accountability would be the new watchword and players responded. One year later, in a season marked by a spreading epidemic, Arians guided the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory, closing with an 8-game winning streak.

“The thing I’m proudest about is the culture we’ve established here,” Arians said. “Everyone is there for each other. I’d say that the proudest thing about that year was how our guys sacrificed to beat COVID. The sacrifice of our team was unbelievable.”

As defending champs, the Bucs reached the second round of the playoffs before a heartbreaking loss to the Rams. That kicked off a challenging 2022 for Arians and his family.

He stepped down as head coach in March and his hand-picked successor,

Todd Bowles, is struggling with a 7-8 record, despite Tom Brady taking every snap. The Bucs can clinch the NFC South title by beating Carolina on New Year’s Day.

Arians was hoping to see Byron Leftwich thrive as the unquestioned play-caller and coordinator, but Tampa Bay’s offense has cratered, averaging a mere 17.7 points per game, well off the lofty standard set the previous two seasons with Arians at the helm.

While the team faltered in October, Arians spent four days at Tampa General. Severe chest pains had doctors fearing a heart issue, but those fears were unfounded and Arians has been fine since his release.

He’s back on his golf cart, cracking wise on the practice field and looking for any distressing signs he can pass on to Bowles or Jason Licht.

Yes, things are suddenly looking up for a two-time Coach of the Year who turned 70 this fall.

He’s grateful for the Christmas present he just received — five days with his family in Arizona, marked by a Buc victory against the Cardinals. Arians didn’t even bring his golf clubs, soaking up the time with his wife, Christine, and his children, Jake and Kristi.

Now the family has congregated in Tampa, awaiting Sunday’s halftime ceremony. Who’s coming?

“Oh God, my son has the list … brothers, sisters, cousins, friends from Arizona. It’s a bunch.”

Arians is no stranger to impressive honors. This one is the topper.

“Going into the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame was extremely special, but to get up there with Derrick Brooks, Rondé Barber, Warren Sapp and Lee Roy Selmon, the names up there are amazing,” he said. “To be part of that group is just unbelievable.”

At the age of 31, Arians was coaching the Temple Owls and a savvy defensive back named Todd Bowles. Almost four decades later, he’s ready for his closeup at Raymond James Stadium.

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

I asked Arians if he would have been shocked in 1983 to learn he would one day find his name on the facade of an NFL facility.

“Maybe not,” he said with a chuckle, “because when I was 31, I thought I knew everything.”

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30 Responses to ““Just Unbelievable””

  1. Tdtb Says:

    It’s amazing how the accumulation of knowledge over the years has made me less intelligent.

  2. AbucAway Says:

    Good piece here, Ira. Thanks

  3. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Thanks so much Coach.

  4. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Excellent article/post, Ira. BA ( as head coach ) is missed…but did the job he was brought to town to do and then some. Bowles is like a son to him…so the loyalty is understandable. Hard to watch in real time…but understandable.

    Feels like the end of an era.

  5. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Unfortunately, he’ll be remembered for pretending Leftwich was an offensive coordinator when all he is is offensive.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Think it is sad that Gruden was ejected from the Ring of Honor…….words alone should not be enough.

    I miss BA……and I think the team does also.

  7. Hodad Says:

    Only thing that can ruin tomorrow is his hand picked successor losing the game, and the division.

  8. Show Me the TDs Says:

    Wisdom comes from memories.

  9. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    TY so much Coach Arians for all you did for us!

  10. Darin Says:

    Call the plays too coach! Gona be hard to watch otherwise. Who am I fooling I ain’t watching them be who they be again

  11. darengibo Says:

    Well deserved BA! I too feel taking Gruden out was such a knee jerk reaction and not needed… if we are going to take names off stadiums and statues of athletes/coaches down for their mistakes via words, or actions… there won’t be many names or statues around…. Glazers want to gain respect? Put Chucky BACK UP!

    Anyhoo…. still wish Bruce was coaching on our sideline as we would be looking a lot different NO doubt.

  12. Cobraboy Says:

    The older I get, the better I was…

  13. Infomeplease Says:

    BA, THANK YOU for coming to Tampa!!! You are already missed!!!

  14. Big Marlon B Says:

    I absolutely love this dude. Just the last line alone shows that he’s a totally different kind of guy, than spouting out the usual “coach speak”.

  15. covertwo22 Says:

    This season was shocking to me how important a HC is. This team went from a perennial super bowl contender to a laughing stock, and a complete waste of a great quarterback. The only significant change was the HC. Hell!! I think Jameis Winston’s last year here under BA was a better team than this year under Bowles.

    No Bucs fan should ever doubt the importance of a head coach after this monstrosity of a season.

  16. covertwo22 Says:

    I also agree that taking Gruden out of the ring of honor was an awful decision. Glazers should have had some damn backbone!

  17. D-Rok Says:

    Thanks for all you’ve done for the Bucs, Coach Arians. You are sorely missed this year.

  18. Buczilla Says:

    I miss Arians and he is certainly worthy of this honor.

  19. Hodad Says:

    Those who think Gruden should still be in the ROH, might not know what he said about one of the Glazer brothers. If he said those things about you I doubt if you’d be honoring him.

  20. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Gruden’s name HAD to come down.

    It was very upsetting to our male emotional support cheerleader.
    We did the right thing………..

  21. Steven007 Says:

    Hodad is right, it came down to what he said about the Glazers themselves. You know, that tight ownership group that paid $8 million in cash and a couple of first-round picks to acquire him. And then paid him a king’s ransom to leave when he proved to be less effective. Bad mouthing those boys is what got his name removed.

  22. Goatfarmer Says:

    So I hope at the end of BA’s speech, he announces that he’s resuming his Buccaneers head coaching duties on March 1, 2023. He could help Derrick Carr be really good.

  23. CrackWise Says:

    Ah yes, “Cracking Wise” is becoming a thing. Just as I have planned. Soon, it will be a mainstay of a statement in the human experience.

    That said, Arians FAILED to CrackWise when he handed the keys of a hot rod over to two knuckleheads because they pretended to be his friend and road his coattail to glory.

    Good job on your lifetime achievement BA. No one will ever be able to take that away from you accept, well anyone who one day decides they didn’t like you calling them names.

    Just ask Chucky. Sad day in Tampa Bay tomorrow. Even if the Bucs win. BRING BACK CHUCKY if you want to CrackWise!

  24. CleanHouse Says:

    Gruden should absolutely be in the ring of honor.
    Sapp is as much of a character as he is.

    Nice flex of billionaire power to take him out for comments made about the family.

    If the team ever has a new owner, I believe Gruden should be reinstated.

    Congrats to Arians for what he accomplished. His coaching tree seems a bit iffy.

  25. Steven007 Says:

    House, it absolutely was a billionaire flex. Like them or not, this ownership group is one of the better ones in the league. Since they acquired the team from probably the worst owner in NFL history, we’ve won two super bowls and fielded some competitive teams outside of the dark years in the mid 2000s.

    Arians coaching tree compares favorably to Belichick’s. And that’s not a compliment. I understand the loyalty to his guys I suppose, but I’ll never understand his seeming insistence on their elevation here.

  26. DoooshLaRue Says:


    Our win % in between SBs with Glazers (17 years) is 39.4%
    How about most of the decade.
    Glazers bought both SBs.
    Big bucks and picks for Gruden, won SB by knowing Raiders playbook (dumb Raiders)
    Brought in the GOAT and Gronk for SB2, basically the Pats’ offense and now what?

    Culverhouse in 19 years is 30.3%
    Went to NFC Championship game in 4th season with a QB we drafted (foolishly didn’t pay the man)
    Bought franchise for 5 million
    Sold for 192 million
    Hugh was a lot of things but he wasn’t dumb.

    Glazers ain’t all that.

  27. Redeemer Says:

    Why are they doing this with essentially a playoff game looming? BA certainly deserves the honor, but the timing is strange. I’m sure it was all planned before hand, but usually these things are done in home openers, or meaningless games. The season is on the line. They could have done it earlier. If they lay an egg, nobody will remember the ceremony unless BA has a few in him and lets loose. Who the hell knows, it might inspire the team. IMO, is bad look

  28. Bucobill999 Says:

    Always first rate ira

  29. DoooshLaRue Says:


    I meant CENTURY!

  30. Crickett Baker Says:

    Great article and I hope the Bucs win this one for Bruce (and the rest of us). IMO Bruce was the best coach we ever had and I am glad he didn’t go somewhere else when he stepped down. Great move.