Bruce Arians has had a strange journey as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Last year he was hailed as one of the best coaches in the league when he led the team to a 14-2 season and an appearance in the NFC Championship game. This year the Cardinals are an inexcusable 5-8-1 and will miss the playoffs, despite the fact that the conference is weaker than it has been in years.
He also had quite a strange moment earlier in the year when he declared that moms are responsible for ruining youth football in America and that they must be stopped.
So it’s safe to say that 2016 was never going to go down as one of Arians’ best, and his latest comments definitely don’t help his credibility problem.
In response to a question regarding star college football players like Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette skipping bowl games to prepare for the NFL, Arians had this to say:
“That would concern me. Depending on what their situation is as a team, because this is a team sport. But you’ve had a couple of guys get injured in the last couple years. Agents have a lot to say about it. Parents have a lot to say about it. But, it would concern me.”
That’s an interesting point, particularly coming from the coach that just drafted Robert Nkemdiche; widely regarded as one of the biggest wild cards the NFL draft had seen in years.
As a defensive lineman at Old Miss, Nkemdiche was suspended from his bowl game because of drug-related incident that involved smoking some kind of synthetic or laced marijuana and falling/jumping from a 4th story window, resulting in several injuries.
The whole incident was evidence in support of preexisting concerns that scouts had about Nkemdiche, causing the freakishly talented lineman’s draft stock to plummet. The Cardinals took a chance on him anyway, drafting him with the 29th overall pick.
Now if Arians was willing to draft a guy like Nkemdiche, who was suspended from his bowl game for acting like a complete moron and jeopardizing his own future in the NFL, why the hell would he have a problem with two guys who are trying to be diligent about protecting their bodies to have successful pro careers?
Arians’ comments are indicative of a larger issue with old school football culture; a culture that still overvalues blindly loyal workhorses and mental malleability. The fact that players are becoming business savvy and are learning how to invest in the longevity of their careers represents a turning point in pro football, and it’s also begun to expose the hypocrisy of coaches like Arians.