York High graduate Bruce Arians wants to stop drawing headlines for his forward-thinking approach.
Arians is returning to coaching after he retired from the Arizona Cardinals a year ago. He was hired in January by Tampa Bay, and this month he brought on Maral Javadifar and Lori Locust as full-time assistant coaches.
“It’s time, and I’ll be happy when it’s not news anymore,” Arians said. “That’s where it should be heading. Two super-qualified people. I had (intern Jen Welter) with me in Arizona and it worked out fine.
“That they are gender-different, who gives a (darn).”
Locust is an assistant defensive line coach, and Javadifar is assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Arians, a two-time NFL Coach of the Year (2012 as an interim with Colts, 2014 with Cardinals) scoffed at the idea that any NFL player would look askance at being coached by a woman.
“Can women coach? Hell, yes. I’ve seen it,” he said. “It is just a matter of getting opportunities. It’s hard for young guys, too. It’s a unique position in the NFL. If they can’t do it, you get fired like everybody else.
“I’ve seen it first hand: Our linebackers went straight to Jen because she had a different way to teaching.”
Every NFL player is going to look at you and say, ‘How can you make me better?’ If you have an answer, you are in. If you can’t answer the question, you don’t belong there anyway.”
He projects it will take “probably five years” before women regularly coaching in the NFL no longer is a novelty, but insists it should happen much sooner – like already.
“I think back to the best teachers I had, most of them were female,” he said. “Football, we are glorified school teachers. You can know all the football in the world, if you can’t teach it … Why not take a great teacher of any gender and have them help your players. I don’t see it as an issue.”
Arians weighs in on Big Ben: You can also add Arians to the list of people who is rushing to the defense of Ben Roethlisberger in recent days.
Arians was Roethlisberger’s offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2007-11. The two are known to have been close, often golfing together even after Arians’ departure from the Steelers.
Arians was asked about Roethlisberger’s leadership qualities, which have come into question after criticism from former teammates Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell this offseason.
Arians told The Athletic that Roethlisberger is “one of the best I’ve ever been around.”
“Guys have to have thicker skin, man,” Arians said, according to ESPN, in clear reference to Bell and Brown. “(Roethlisberger is) the leader. He’s the guy. Early in his career everybody said, ‘Hey, you’re not vocal enough.’ But you had Jerome Bettis and Alan Faneca and you didn’t have to be. It’s his team.“
Arians spent time as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals between his 2012 firing by the Steelers until last season, when he was a commentator for CBS. Arians was coordinator in Pittsburgh during Brown’s first two seasons in the NFL, but Brown did not become a starter until the season after Arians left.
The Associated Press and the (Greensburg) Tribune-Review contributed to this report.