By FRED GOODALL – AP sportswriter
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Bruce Arians has decided to retire as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and move into a front-office role with the team, an impressive move announced Wednesday night.
Arians, who turns 70 next season, coached the Bucs to the Super Bowl title in the 2020 season – Tom Brady’s first with Tampa Bay. The Bucs were 31-18 in Arians’ three seasons there and he was 80-48-1 overall in eight years as head coach when he adds his five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will replace Arians as manager.
NBC Sports and the Los Angeles Times first reported on Arians’ decision and that Bowles would be promoted.
“I’ve spent the last 50 years of my life in one form or another coaching football on the sidelines,” Arians said in a statement released by the team. “Today I made the decision to transition from the sidelines to a different role in the Buccaneers’ front office, supporting (General Manager) Jason Licht and his staff.
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“I love football. I love the relationships, the strategy, the competition – everything. It’s been one hell of a ride but I know this is the right time for me to make this transition.”
Bowles will become the sixth minority head coach in the NFL, joining Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Washington’s Ron Rivera, New York Jets’ Robert Saleh, Houston’s Lovie Smith and Miami’s Mike McDaniel. He is also the fourth black manager in Bucs history, joining Tony Dungy, Raheem Morris and Smith.
It’s the second major retirement announcement for the Bucs this offseason, after Brady announced in February that he was retiring. Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, returned 40 days later and said he would be returning for a 23rd season, noting that he had “unfinished business.”
Brady said in an Instagram post Wednesday night that Arians was a big part of his decision to play for Tampa Bay and that he will be “forever grateful.”
“You are an incredible man and coach and it was a privilege to play for you,” Brady wrote. “You are a true NFL legend and a pioneer for all the work you have done to make the league more diverse and inclusive. Smart, tough and loyal are just some of the words that describe your style. I will always remember the conversations we had when you hired me two years ago and all the things we discussed have come true.”
At the NFL’s annual meetings on the state’s Atlantic side in Palm Beach, Fla., there was no public indication that such a move was imminent. Arians was there briefly and did an interview with NFL Network about what the team would have done to replace Brady if the quarterback hadn’t changed his mind. Licht spoke briefly to reporters during the meetings, as did team co-owner Joel Glazer.
Arian didn’t do a group interview there as the team said he was leaving for personal reasons. He was also one of the four coaches who chose not to be part of the annual group photo of all NFL head coaches at the meetings.
Bowles was interim head coach at Miami for three games in 2011 and went 24-40 in four seasons from 2015-18 for the New York Jets.
“I thank the Glazer family and Jason Licht for their trust in me to take on this role, and to Coach Arians for his support and guidance over the past four decades,” Bowles said. “Tampa has become home to my family and we look forward to remaining a part of this community for years to come. … I look forward to starting with our players, coaches and front office in preparation for the 2022 season.”
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