The least surprising thing to happen during Sunday’s slate of NFL games was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints getting into a scuffle. Scuffling is just what these guys do whenever they meet. But even if Mike Evans and Marshon Lattimore getting themselves ejected was entirely expected, this iteration of their long-running divisional brawl wasn’t without a surprise: the appearance of Bruce Arians.
Arians hasn’t really been heard from since stepping down as the Bucs’ head coach this past offseason, a perplexing move that ended with Arians being kicked upstairs to be the team’s Senior Advisor To The General Manager (whatever that means) and everyone else assuming that he’d been ousted thanks to some back-room dealing by Tom Brady, who never quite seemed to get along with ol’ Bruce. So it was more than a bit strange to not only see Arians walking around on the sideline during Sunday’s game, but helpfully working to instigate the fight between Evans and Lattimore. Feel free to take these clips as proof that 1) Arians’s new job is totally made-up and he has nothing but free time, or 2) that it comes with very real power, which has now gone to his head a bit.
When Arians wasn’t barking at Lattimore or (possibly) encouraging Evans to start shoving people, he was stalking the sideline and complaining to the referees. That is, he was doing all the things a coach might do, except he is no longer a coach. Weirder still is the fact that Arians was not on the sideline for the Bucs’ first game of the season—he was hanging out in the luxury suite wearing a cool Hawaiian shirt.
Maybe that Hawaiian shirt is the key to understanding Arians’s surprise sideline appearance in Week 2. It is pretty rare for a coach who won a Super Bowl two seasons ago and then 13 games in the campaign after that to be forced into what looks a lot like a managed retirement, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Arians wasn’t exactly adjusting well to his new role. It might be that the Hawaiian shirt was his way of trying to force the new title to stick—dressing for the quasi-job he has, instead of the job he wants to have—but it clearly didn’t work. If Arians shows up on the sideline in Week 3 with a few of his old gizmos strapped back onto his chest, the Bucs might have something to worry about.