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It was quite the historic day at the AdventHealth Training Center on March 31, as Buccaneers Super Bowl
winning head coach Bruce Arians passed on the keys to the Ferrari Bucs roster to former defensive coordinator Todd
Bowles, to drive into another NFL season where the Buccaneers are now the favorite to win the

Arians will move upstairs into an advisory role and will also be inducted into
the Buccaneers Ring of Honor. Bowles takes over as head coach, but will still run the defense
and call the plays. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich continues to run the offense, so the all important
continuity in coaching is preserved. Seems like a great plan. Of course the return of quarterback
Tom Brady from his 40-day retirement is the reason all this happened. The question I’m
getting more than ever is… did Brady push Arians out?

It’s an interesting question and frankly, while I was at the Super Bowl on Radio Row in Los
Angeles, it was one of the main topics. Rumors were flying that Brady retired because
Arians was “changing the game plans that Brady and Leftwich were cooking up each
week” and these same stories were coming from very trusted sources. I was naturally
intrigued so I started doing some digging. There had been a few reports of “turmoil” within the organization. Even team captain and linebacker Lavonte David used that word in a press conference.

Other Brady longtime media allies like ESPN’s Seth Wickersham were reporting that
Brady was unhappy that Arians didn’t run as “tight a ship” as Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did. Brady then
retired suddenly while he was at the top of his game. He led the league in TD passes and
yards! Days later, he tells Jim Gray on his “Let’s Go!” podcast when asked if he might come back…
“You never say never”!

Then reports surface that Brady wants to come back and play for
his hometown 49ers or the Dolphins, where he’s building his forever home in Miami and is
friends with owner Stephen Ross. Conspiracy theories start running amuck that Brady
doesn’t want to play for Arians anymore and he’s trying to force a trade (The Buccaneers still
retain his rights). Arians and general manager Jason Licht make it known publicly that the price will be
“five 1st round picks” and that the Buccaneers are “leaving the door open and the light on” for
Brady should he wish to come back. Wow! What a saga! This will make a wonderful 30
for 30 some day!

So what really happened? Well only the principles inside the building really know, but
here is my educated guess based on chatting with owner Joel Glazer, Licht, Arians and Bowles at the press conference along with some other well placed sources.

I do believe there were some disagreements within the organization on the handling of
the Antonio Brown situation, after he was dismissed from the team after he refused to
re-enter the game and stormed off the sidelines, and in some of the
game planning, but those stories were grossly exaggerated. Brady was frustrated with
the offense at times (shutout by the Saints, struggled for three quarters vs Rams), but that
was more about injuries to right tackle Tristan Wirfs and the loss of receivers Chris Godwin and Brown. Brady
also saw the NFC weakened by the departure of Saints head coach Sean Payton, quarterback Russell
Wilson from Seattle, receiver Davante Adams from Green Bay and the Cowboys losing players.

The NFC was suddenly wide open and Brady realized his best chance to play and win a
Super Bowl was back with the Buccaneers. He also realized whatever differences he had with
Arians and the organization were easily worked out and weren’t really that bad. After all
they did — winning a Super Bowl and 29 games in two years! He notified the Buccaneers secretly that
he was coming back just days before free agency so they could bring back key free
agents in center Ryan Jensen, cornerback Carlton Davis III, Godwin and more. The Buccaneers
were back together and suddenly the favorites to win the NFC.

What an incredible reversal of fortune for Tampa Bay! In my conversations with Licht and Glazer, it was clear
they played this high stakes game of NFL poker perfectly and wound up putting the
band back together for at least one more run with Brady. After contemplating a complete
rebuild, this was indeed a historic windfall financially and competitively!

With the Buccaneers in premium position to make a run, Arians took stock of his position and
his legacy in the game. Arians has longed championed hiring minorities and women on
his coaching staffs. He was the first to hire a full-time female coach and hired two women when he
came to Tampa Bay. He is the only head coach in NFL history to have all Black
coordinators. Arians had long ago handed over control of the team to these coordinators
and was really more of a CEO than an in the trenches game planner. Perhaps it was
time to step back and hand the keys over to Bowles.

This was always his plan of succession and that was not a secret. But if this was going to be Brady’s last season,
why not hand Bowles keys to a Ferrari driven by Brady than do it next season and hand
him the keys to a rebuilt Pinto? That would not be fair to Bowles and would certainly give him
little chance of success.

But what coach in his right mind would give up an opportunity to coach the G.O.A.T. for
another season, possibly win another Super Bowl and cement themselves a bust in the
Hall of Fame? Arians…that’s who! As Arians so eloquently said on the podium, “I
don’t give a shit about the Hall of Fame,” and that’s not hyperbole. As Ronde Barber told
me, Arians doesn’t just talk the talk about hiring minorities…he walks the walk! Barber
should know…Arians was his babysitter when Arians roomed with his dad at Virginia

So, with the Buccaneers in great position to make a Super Bowl run, Arians made the
selfless decision to move upstairs and allow Bowles, Leftwich, Licht and Brady to run
the show. When I asked Licht if he knew of any coach who would make this type of
sacrifice for an organization he said, “I don’t know of anyone who would and I don’t think
it’s ever been done where the torch has been passed with a team in phenomenal

Glazer told me basically the same thing and that’s why the Glazers made
the unprecedented move to immediately put Arians into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor.
Let me reiterate that this is my best guess on how this whole saga played out. I am not
saying by any means this is fact, but it is based on some very credible background
information given to me by many excellent and trusted sources. I’ve been blessed to get
to know Arians on a personal level, having played golf with him a couple times. You will
not meet a more honest and down to earth NFL head coach. He is exactly as he
appears on TV! He is one-of-one!

If there is any justice in this league, he will again stand on
the podium with the confetti falling down, clutching another Lombardi trophy. Maybe
even Brady will toss it to him…at the next Buccaneers boat parade.