With Cholesterol Education Month almost here, Bruce Arians has partnered up with Novartis to shed light on a health issue that could've cost him his career.
In 2017, Arians was hospitalized with chest pains. At that time, he was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
Arians believes his trip to the hospital in 2017 gave him the wake-up call he needed. He returned to coaching in 2019, signing a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His tenure wasn't filled with health scares. Instead, it featured a Super Bowl victory.
Despite Arians' success as the head coach of the Buccaneers, he announced in late March that he was stepping down from his role with the team. He's now a senior advisor to general manager Jason Licht.
We caught up with Bruce Arians to discuss his partnership with Novartis, the importance of getting your cholesterol checked, his new role with the Buccaneers and so much more.
The Spun: Can you tell us about your partnership with Novartis and why it’s so important to you?
Bruce Arians: It really goes back to 2016. I had a health scare - we played the Vikings. In the middle of the night, I had to wake up my wife and go to the hospital. I had chest pains, the whole bit. I found out I had really bad cholesterol. I was very, very fortunate in that episode to not have a heart attack. So it’s important to diet, exercise and take medicine. With September being Cholesterol Awareness Month, I wanted to get out there and help as many people - men and women - go get checked. Get a cholesterol coach, get a scorecard, get a game plan and figure out how to handle it - especially if you’re in a stressful situation. Stress and bad cholesterol is killer.
The Spun: How did you balance the stress that comes from coaching and your overall health?
BA: Find 10 minutes. People always say they don’t have time to exercise - baloney. I got to the point where I had a good workout every day and changed my diet. I continued getting regular assessments from the doctors. It was a full-blown game plan for me, and I’d like to see people get that done so we can avoid those disastrous situations where we lose somebody.
The Spun: How are you adjusting to your new role with the Buccaneers?
BA: It’s been fantastic. It has been an easy, easy transition and something I’ve been looking forward to. Giving the job to one of my guys and staying there for the transition is great. Im at practice every day, watching film with the guys and talking to Jason [Licht] about the personnel. I’m glad I’m not there today because it’s cut day, the worst day of the year. I found out I had to be in the press box for games - I had a flag thrown at me at Tennessee. I’m really liking the new role.
The Spun: Do you still feel that passion burning inside you to be a coach?
BA: No, I’m done. This is it for me. I get all I want. Somebody said you're a grandparent of football. I get to spend time with them [the players], and then go home and play golf. That has been fantastic. But no, those coaching days are over.
The Spun: Byron Leftwich has been considered a popular name in the coaching ranks for the past two years. Were you a bit disappointed didn’t get a head coaching gig this season?
BA: Those jobs don’t come around very often, and he was so close in Jacksonville. I thought he deserved the job, but you can’t make the decision for owners. But he’s so ready to be a head coach. We’ll have a successful season this year, and he’ll get his due.
The Spun: Were you more surprised that Tom Brady initially retired or that he came out of retirement?
BA: It was really neither. There was a lot of pressure for him to make that announcement. He wasn’t quite ready but he had to do it. He took enough time to realize that’s not what he wanted to do. Obviously, we welcomed him back with open arms. For Tom, I would never say he’s done. He’s throwing the ball better than he has his whole life. He still has the passion for the game, that’s for sure.
The Spun: How has Julio Jones looked in Tampa? Does he still have elite football left in him?
BA: There’s no doubt. During joint practices with the Dolphins and Titans, he looked fantastic. He looks like he’s 26 years old.
The Spun: Do you think the Buccaneers have their quarterback of the future in Kyle Trask?
BA: We selected him in the second round because we wanted a young quarterback on the roster that we really liked. He’s a fighter and has everything you’re looking for in a quarterback - size, arm strength, he’s smart. He’s developing right where we think he should be. There’s no better situation than sitting behind Tom, and he’s got Blaine Gabbert helping him. Kyle got a ton of reps this year. I thought he progressed exactly like we thought he would.
The Spun: Did Tom Brady’s absence actually help a player like Trask because he got more reps?
BA: Oh, it’s huge. It’s great for him to get those reps in. And we know Tom doesn’t need them. Kyle getting all those reps in preseason games is fantastic.
The Spun: Ryan Jensen went down earlier this offseason. How do the Buccaneers replace him?
BA: You can’t dwell on it - it is what it is. We need a “next man up” mentality. Robert Hainsey was brought in for a reason. We’re going to make a center out of him. It’s his time. It might be sooner than we thought, but I think he’d be great.
The Spun: Who’s the most interesting personality you’ve dealt with in the locker room?
BA: It would definitely be Gronk. We’ve had quite a few personalities in the last few years. But I will say, the beauty of our ballclub is everyone checks their ego at the door.
Arians made it clear that he doesn't plan on coaching again. That being said, he remains a key component of Tampa Bay's organization.
The Buccaneers will kick off the regular season on the road against the Dallas Cowboys. It'll be Todd Bowles' first chance to show that he's a worthy successor to Arians.
You can read more of our interviews here.