In the new book by Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians called “The Quarterback Whisperer,’’ Arians compliments Chuck Pagano of the Indianapolis Colts while giving a not-so-positive evaluation of many of his colleagues.
‘’There are a lot of assholes in the world of coaching – backstabbing is common and a lot of guys have personal agendas – but Chuck isn’t one of them,’’ Arians wrote in the book he did with Lars Anderson. “He’s a good, decent, hard-working man who is also a hell of a coach.’’
Most coaches wouldn’t talk about their fellow coaches the way Arians did.
But then Arians isn’t most coaches. He speaks his mind.
That is why his book is interesting. He doesn’t sugarcoat things.
For example, there is his comment about Ben Roethlisberger when Arians was in Pittsburgh and the Steelers drafted the Miami of Ohio product.
“I had no idea what a royal pain in the posterior Ben would briefly become for me,’’ Arians writes.
He says Roethlisberger’s early success went to his head, and that Roethlisberger’s teammates and a four-game NFL suspension for violating the personal conduct policy helped mature him.
Only Arians would say a suspension was a positive for a player, especially since Steelers fans were unhappy about it because Roethlisberger was suspended without ever being charged, much less convicted, despite allegations by two women.
The best thing you can say about this book is that you wish it were longer, because Arians is so candid. He talks about how he tailgates with his players after home games, passing out drinks he keeps in the trunk of his car.
Arians has had an interesting career, working for Bear Bryant and coaching Peyton Manning, Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer.
Arians said when The Bear hired him at Alabama, he was going to use the $3,000 bonus he got after Mississippi State won the Peach Bowl as the down payment on a house. He had given it to a booster to invest it in a money market fund. The booster put it in a failing business instead and went bankrupt, which Arians didn’t find out until the day he was due to close on the house.
He called Bryant for advice, and The Bear warned him about dealing with boosters and then said he was on the bank’s board and would work it out. What he didn’t know until he sold the house was that Bryant wrote a $3,000 check for the down payment.
Arians climbed quickly up the coaching ranks and was the youngest college head coach in the nation at Temple at age 30.
When he left Alabama, Bryant told him, “Coach them hard and hug them harder later.’’
Six years later, Arians was fired by Temple. His wife said it was a relief because he was too stubborn to quit and getting migraines as a result.
Arians doesn’t elaborate much about the Temple experience. Was it just too tough to win at a school in the same state as Penn State and Pitt?
Anyway, he then seemed destined to be a career assistant. Arians didn’t play the game of chasing head jobs and didn’t bother to hire an agent or put together a resume.
He seemed on the road to ending his career with the Steelers coaching Roethlisberger, but then he was fired at age 60 for reasons that still aren’t clear. He says he heard rumors that the Steelers brass wanted him to run the ball more. The move blindsided Arians. He was expecting a raise and got fired.
He was then ready to retire when Pagano called him. You know the rest of the story,
Pagano was sidelined with a bout of leukemia, and Arians filled in for him and won Coach of the Year honors. That led to Arians getting the head job at Arizona and winning Coach of the Year honors a second time.
Arians said he tells his assistants to get out of their offices by 10 p.m. He said if they don’t, it means they don’t want to go home.
“You know why?’’ he wrote. “Because the game ain’t that darn hard.’’
It’s not only the truth, but you rarely hear coaches say that.
The Cardinals took a step back last year and had a losing season. Arians said he has to do a better job of coaching. He said one mistake was working Palmer too hard in August and September and wearing him out. He’s already said Palmer won’t play in the Hall of Fame game next month.
Arians has beaten cancer twice and hints this could be his last season.
“Carson and Larry Fitzgerald are coming back with me,’’ he wrote. ”The gunfighters are going to have at least one more shootout before we ride into the sunset.’’
Arians will be missed when he retires. And he has at least one more story to tell.
“Looking back on my life, I wouldn’t change a thing,’’ he wrote. ‘’Well, one thing.’’
“I would have learned what a condom was when I was sixteen – but that’s a story for another day,’’ he said.
That was a rare time when Arians wasn’t completely candid.