York High grad Bruce Arians hits career pinnacle, is Super Bowl-winning head coach at 68

STEVE HEISER
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians holds up the Vince Lombardi trophy after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 31-9 to win the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

York High graduate Bruce Arians is a Super Bowl champion — again.

His third Super Bowl ring, however, will almost certainly be his most treasured one.

Sunday night, Arians reached a new career pinnacle at age 68 by becoming a Super Bowl champion head coach.

Arians' Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing on their home field, captured Super Bowl 55 with a dominating 31-9 victory over the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Arians' defense held the high-powered Chiefs without a touchdown.

“This really belongs to the coaching staff and our players. I didn’t do a damn thing,” Arians said after he was handed the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Arians' staff was the most diverse in league history. He had three Black coordinators and a female assistant coach.

“I just try to get out of the way and not screw it up,” Arians said.

Arians is the oldest coach to ever win a Super Bowl. He had previously won two Super Bowl titles as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006 and 2009. He was Pittsburgh's wide receivers coach in 2006 and the team's offensive coordinator in 2009.

The Steelers, however, elected not to renew Arians' deal after the 2011 season, a move that eventually helped to launch Arians' NFL head-coaching career, first as an interim head coach with the Indianapolis Colts before landing the head-coaching gig with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. After retiring from the Cardinals job after the 2017 season, Arians was hired as Tampa's head coach in 2019 before leading the Bucs to their second Super Bowl title in just his second year as the team's head coach.

Asked if he ever envisioned this happening after getting fired by the Steelers and enduring some health issues, including cancer, Arians said: "No, not really. I think I would have been smoking something illegal to really imagine this.”

Not the retiring kind: After the game, and his celebratory Gatorade bath, Arians also addressed rumors that he might resign, in his typical candid fashion.

“Hell no,” he said. “I ain’t going anywhere. I’m coming back to try to get two, and we’ll see after that.”

The Brady signing: Arians' biggest coup this season was landing 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady, who engineered yet another masterpiece and won his seventh Super Bowl after six titles with the Patriots.

Arians is known for his go-for-broke, five-word mantra: "no risk it, no biscuit." Because of that, he and the Bucs front office decided to take a chance on an aging quarterback with an impeccable resume.

"You can't hit a home run unless you swing for one," Arians said. "You can't do anything special in life sitting on the fence. Do you sit in a closet and try to be safe? Or do you go and have some damn fun?"

Closing strong: Arians and the Bucs were 7-5 following a Week 12 loss to the Chiefs. But the team didn’t lose again, winning their final eight games. The last three were rematches: they beat NFC South champion New Orleans and No. 1 seed Green Bay on the road before becoming the first team in NFL history to earn the chance to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

Brady did what he does best. And the defense came up big, giving a much better performance than what it put on the field in the first game against the Chiefs. The unit harassed Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes early and often, intercepting two passes and sacking him three times.

“They chased him around all night,” Arians said. “Patrick wasn’t going to beat us running. Let him run around all day.”

As a result, Arians is now a two-time NFL Coach of the Year winner and a three-time Super Bowl champion.

Mother gets to watch: Arians' 95-year-old mother, Kay, who lives in Hanover, was on hand to watch her son's triumphant night and was shown cheering on the Bucs during the CBS telecast.

After the game, Arians made a special point to thank his mother and his wife, Chris, who is a York Catholic High School graduate. The Arians have been married for nearly 50 years.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com. The Associated Press and The Philadelphia Inquirer contributed to this story through the Tribune News Service.