EDITORIAL: Late-in-life success by York High grad Bruce Arians should serve as inspiration
- At 68, York High graduate Bruce Arians is the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl.
- Arians' Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the crown Sunday night with a 31-9 win vs. Kansas City.
- Arians did not get his first NFL head-coaching opportunity until he was in his 60s.
Nearly a decade ago, Bruce Arians’ coaching odyssey looked like it had reached the end of the line.
After the 2011 NFL season, the York High graduate had just been let go as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive coordinator.
At that point, no one would’ve blamed Arians if he had called it quits. After all, he was pushing 60 years of age and had enjoyed a long and successful career as an assistant on both the professional and major college football levels.
However, it looked like he would never become an NFL head coach.
He had been given just one chance as a head coach, with the long-struggling Temple college program in the 1980s. Like many others before him, Arians could not make the Owls into consistent winners and was fired after the 1988 season.
After that, Arians embarked on a career as journeyman assistant with various college and NFL stops.
His stint with the Steelers, which included two Super Bowl titles, looked like it would be the pinnacle of his career.
Not the retiring kind: Arians, however, is not the retiring kind. After getting fired by the Steelers, he landed a job as the Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator. When the Colts head coach, Chuck Pagano, had health issues, Arians filled in as the interim head coach and thrived.
That earned him the permanent head-coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals and again he excelled. In his 60s, he was twice named the NFL Coach of the Year. After the 2017 season, and dealing with some health issues, Arians opted to retire.
Still, he felt the need to scratch that coaching itch again and he became the Tampa Bay head coach in 2019. In his second season, at age 68, he’s now become the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl.
Arians accomplished his greatest coaching achievement when his underdog Buccaneers throttled the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night, 31-9.
Making York County proud: In the process, he made York County proud and proved that age does not need to be an insurmountable hurdle on the road to success. He should serve as inspiration to all of us, but especially those charging toward retirement age.
Along the way, during a news conference leading up to the Super Bowl, he made a point to call York home. That’s not surprising. It's where he grew up and excelled as an athlete. He’s married to a York Catholic High School graduate, Chris, and they will soon celebrate their 50th anniversary.
His local roots were also on full display Sunday when his 95-year-old mother, Kay, was seen cheering on her son’s team at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Kay still lives in Hanover, as do some of Arians' other relatives.
He wants another title: Again, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Arians decide to go out on top and retire after Sunday's win.
Before Sunday’s game, there were even reports that Arians might step down if the Bucs won the Super Bowl. Sunday night, he quickly squelched those rumors, in his typical candid fashion.
“Hell, no,” he said after the game. “I ain’t going anywhere. I’m coming back to try to get two, and we’ll see after that.”
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Folks around these parts had to be thrilled to hear those words. Yorkers, and those in the surrounding communities, have taken great joy in watching Arians’ unlikely, late-in-life path to NFL success.
It’s been continually entertaining watching the fun-loving, risk-taking, blunt-talking Arians taking the NFL by storm when he should be collecting Medicare and Social Security.
No one wants to see it end.