PASADENA, Calif. – If Bruce Arians starred in a TV show, its name would be borrowed from a popular sitcom.
Everybody Respects Bruce.
It’d be funny, like the 60-year-old Cardinals coach. It’d also be a straight-shooting, to-the-point show that would have viewers enthralled. Just like Arians’ players.
If you asked any of the panelists at Monday night’s NFL All-Access event at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., if they would watch, you’d get a resounding affirmation.
Arians’ optimism and never-ending smiling was contagious with his colleagues, a group that included host Andrea Kremer of the NFL Network, San Diego Chargers’ head coach Mike McCoy, former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, former players Bill Romanowski and J.J. Stokes, Green Bay Packers Equipment Manager Gordon Batty, Fox Sports rules analyst Mike Pereira and Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer.
“Bruce is like everybody’s favorite uncle,” Glazer said. “He just relates to players, especially inner-city kids. He’s just great.
“When they realize a guy is real they gravitate to them.”
Arians’ reputation clearly preceded him to Los Angeles. His ability to relate to players and not skirt around the truth was well-known and widely admired. So was his offensive genius.
Even Stokes, a wide receiver who never played for Arians and has had only a couple of conversations about the coach with friends around the NFL, knew about Arians’ philosophy.
“The thing that came out is he has an open line of communication,” Stokes said. “If you feel like you don’t know what the hell is going on, chances are you won’t be as effective as you can be.”
It didn’t matter who was asked, whether they’re a foe or a reporter or a superior, they all stressed how much Arians is respected.
At one point, Glazer called Arians a “grunt” because of his longevity in the league without ascending to a head-coaching job. But it wasn’t meant to demean Arians’ career.
“You see these other guys that come in real fast and they shoot the moon,” Glazer said. “Here’s a guy who’s had success everywhere he’s gone.
“They haven’t given him a shot because he’s not shiny, if you will. He’s not the shiny young guy. I’ll take a guy who’s been successful everywhere he’s been over a shiny young guy.”
McCoy was 19 years younger than Arians when he was named the Chargers head coach two days before Arians was hired by the Cardinals. But it’s all about being in the right place at the right time, McCoy said.
“There’s a lot of people who have been in certain situations and haven’t got the opportunities,” said McCoy, who will bring the Chargers to Arizona in Week 3 of the preseason. “The key is when you get the opportunity to make the most of it. And he will.”
When the panel began its discussion, Arians was quickly asked early on about new quarterback
Stokes, who is an analyst for Fox Sports, said it’s not just Arians’ honest reputation that has players counting the days until they can take the field. It’s his track record. He’s won.
Arians won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers and after assuming the head-coaching job in Indianapolis last year after three games because Colts coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with Leukemia, Arians led the Colts to the playoffs with a rookie quarterback. That last accomplishment has him nominated for an ESPY Wednesday night as the only football coach among the Coach of the Year candidates.
Players see that, Stokes said, and it’s almost more appealing than a personality.
Arians was gracious for the opportunity to join the panel, which was hosted by the Los Angeles Sports Commission. Even though his players won’t start arriving until next Tuesday, Arians has planned to make a run-through of the training camp facilities at University of Phoenix Stadium on Monday with his staff.
For the most part, it’s just another training camp. Arians will run the same drills he has for more than 30 years. He’ll give the same speeches. He’s not nervous. But as much as Arians’ tried to stress how this year will be like all the others, he finally relented. He showed how being a head coach about to start his first training camp is unlike all the other seasons.
"About three weeks ago I said, 'Oh, are all the 'Ps' and 'Qs' and 'Ts' and 'Is' and all that stuff dotted, crossed? They are," Arians said with a smile. "They are."