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Earlier this month, Bruce Arians announced that he was stepping down as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and passing the headset to Bucs’ defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles.
It was a pleasantly surprising decision and a significant gesture by Arians at a time where Black coaches continue to be passed over for head coaching jobs.
But make no mistake. This was no sympathetic handout, for Bowles deserved the job.
It was a move that embodied who both Arians and the Bucs are and proved that diversity in the NFL works.
Yet this isn’t new for Arians for he has a history of championing diversity.
According to CBSSports.com, Arians, as Virginia Tech’s starting quarterback in the 1960s, became the first white player to have a Black roommate. His roommate was James Barber, the future father of NFL stars Tiki and Ronde Barber.
As a head coach, he built diverse staffs at both Arizona and Tampa Bay, with the latter leading them to a Super Bowl title in 2021. It was, arguably, the most diverse staff in NFL history.
His staff featured 2 women and 11 Black coaches, including 3 Black head coordinators. Byron Leftwich led the offense, Todd Bowles helmed the defense and Keith Armstrong called the shots on special teams. It was history-making as it was the first time that a trio of Black coaches led the offense, defense and special teams to the Super Bowl.
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