HEISER: Bruce Arians profile well worth your time
- Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is a graduate of York High.
- He's compiled a 34-14 record in three years as the Cardinals' head coach.
- HBO recently profiled Arians on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble."
Bruce Arians is one super-cool dude.
That's the unmistakable impression you're left with after watching the profile of the York High graduate during the latest installment of HBO's “Real Sports with Bryant Gumble.”
If you have HBO and haven't seen the segment, you definitely need to check it out through Comcast's On Demand service.
If you don't have HBO or Comcast, you need to find a friend who does, quickly.
The entertaining 20-minute portrait of the Arizona Cardinals head coach is just that good.
Arians comes across as a man who is equal parts funny, honest, profane, blunt, quirky, stylish and passionate.
The best part about the segment, at least for folks in these parts, is that Arians talks extensively and openly about his adolescence in York, as well as his Pennsylvania coaching stints with the Temple Owls and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It's a great watch, thanks in large part to the professional interviewing skills of veteran NFL reporter Andrea Kremer.
Here are just a few of the more interesting snapshots from the profile about a coach who describes himself as “the cool uncle you like to have a drink with.”
Racial tensions in York: Arians grew up in York during the 1960s, when the city was dealing with racial tensions that boiled over into a riot between rival gangs in July of 1969. A white cop and a black woman were left dead.
Arians said sports helped him avoid the gangs and that he always had black friends. In fact, he said he was often the only white player on a team full of black athletes.
One of his black friends was Chuckie Kinard. The two would often walk to the gym together to play basketball. Some members of the community, both white and black, didn't appreciate their friendship and some threats were made. One of the folks who was unhappy with their friendship was Kinard's brother, a man Arians said was a member of the Black Panthers.
So, Kinard and Arians decided to walk on opposite sides of the street en route to the gym, but would still play basketball together once they arrived. Kinard and Arians remained friends, however, and Kinard was later in Arians' wedding.
Disappointing his father: Arians talked about his expulsion from York Catholic High School for what was described by Kremer as drinking. He transferred to York High.
The most difficult part of that experience for Arians was dealing with his father's dismay.
“I saw a look in my father's eyes, how much I embarrassed him, and until he passed away I've been trying to get rid of it,” Arians said. “I can still see the look. It was disappointment.”
Almost dying at Temple: Arians described his six-year stint as Temple's head coach in the mid-1980s, when he compiled a 27-39 record. He was just 30 when he got the job with the long-suffering Owls, but it almost drove him to an early grave because he refused to delegate duties. He suffered from migraines and ulcers.
“I tried to do too much,” he said. “I almost died.”
His health deteriorated so much that his wife, Chris, said it was a “relief” when he got fired.
Ugly exit from Pittsburgh: After getting fired at Temple, Arians became a journeyman assistant in both the college and pro ranks, earning a reputation as a “quarterback whisperer.”
That assistant-coaching career reached its pinnacle with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was on Mike Tomlin's staff that won Super Bowl titles in 2006 and 2009. He was the offensive coordinator for the 2009 Steelers team.
After the 2011 season, however, Arians said he got fired by Tomlin, an act that Arians felt was a betrayal.
“I was p----- off, because I had done a done a good job,” he said. “Maybe not the right image, but it was a damn good job.”
Arians believes he got canned because his teams didn't run the ball enough and because some felt his relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was too close.
The Steelers tried to pass off his departure as a “retirement.”
New life as head coach; Arians, in fact, thought he was retired until Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano offered him a job as the Colts offensive coordinator.
He later became interim head coach with the Colts when Pagano got leukemia. Arians, a prostate cancer survivor himself, performed so well in his interim role, going 9-3, that he was named NFL Coach of the Year.
He again suffered from serious health issues, however, because of the way he threw himself into the Indy job. In fact, he missed the Colts' wild-card loss.
Still, at age 60 and despite his past ailments, his standout performance with the Colts earned him his first-ever NFL head-coaching gig with the Cardinals, where he's compiled a stellar 34-14 regular-season record in three seasons, including two playoff berths.
He said his success in the desert has given him a strong sense of vindication after his firing by the Steelers.
Sleeping away his troubles: Since arriving in Arizona, Arians has largely avoided the health issues that plagued him at Temple and Indianapolis, something he partly credits to a new-age sleeping chamber that he said helps him keep his “cool.”
He described it as the “ultimate chill zone.”
The chamber uses lights, crystals and sound vibrations to promote relaxation.
Overview: Those are just some of the highlights from the HBO profile.
There's much, much more packed into the 20 minutes and it's well worth your time.
It's an illuminating and captivating look at one super-cool dude.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arians also featured in eight-part series: Arians will also be featured in a landmark eight-part series featuring his 2015 Arizona Cardinals.
The series, a joint project between Amazon and NFL films, is titled: "All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals."
"For the first time in history, Amazon and NFL Films will present an unprecedented look at the lives of players, coaches and owners of the Arizona Cardinals over an entire NFL season," reads the description on show's website. "Witness the real life, behind the scenes journey with head coach Bruce Arians, president Michael Bidwill, general manager Steve Keim and Pro Bowlers Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu."
Keim is a graduate of Red Land High School. Arians' wife, Christine, will also be featured. She is a York Catholic graduate.
The series, narrated by "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm, will premier Friday on Amazon Video.