Bruce Arians admitted the first thought he had when he found out the Arizona Foundation For Women decided to give him their 2016 Voice of Women award was, why?
There were reasons. Arians brought Jen Welter on as a coaching intern last training camp, the first woman coach in NFL history. He and wife Christine are advocates for needy children, and Arians has a no-tolerance policy for domestic violence.
"Everything that we stand for, evidently the ladies decided to give me an award for just doing what I thought we were supposed to do," Arians said.
"Surprising, until I thought about it," Christine Arians said. "But he's doing what everybody should do, and he doesn't have a choice because he's married to me. We're both thrilled and honored."
During his acceptance speech, Arians noted that he hired Welter because she was deserving of one of the seven coaching internships regardless of her gender. He was quick to praise both his wife – who has spent her adult life as a children's advocate – and his mother – who worked at the York Peppermint Patty factory to fortify the Arians household finances.
Arians noted that, going through the current draft meetings, of the 400 players the Cardinals have go through, 58 percent have been raised by only a mother or grandmother.
Arians told a story about attending a miniature golf event with players like Larry Fitzgerald and Tyrann Mathieu along with many children from foster homes.
"At the end of the day, one was leaving, and he just said, 'Coach, thanks for caring,' " Arians said, his voice cracking. "It breaks your heart because we do care. That moment, when you feel like that and you know you've done something for a child, that's much better than beating the Green Bay Packers."
Arians has been given multiple Coach of the Year awards but Thursday's honor "seems more substantial," Christine Arians said. "It's all well and good to honor people for football. I've been a football fan my whole life – not that I had a choice. But this feels more substantial to me and it's what we do outside of football that makes a difference in the world, in my opinion."
The foundation also honored NBC News reporter Maria Shriver, who has worked to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease, with the Sandra Day O'Connor lifetime achievement award. Both Shriver and former Supreme Court Justice O'Connor were in attendance.
"I'm the little fish in this pond, baby," Arians said. "What an honor to be around women so strong and so powerful."
Images from coach Bruce Arians' charity dinner on Monday at Steak 44, which raised funds for Court Appointed Special Advocates