Bruce Arians rather suddenly announced his decision to step away from the sideline and move up to the front office on Wednesday night. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had many statements prepared. In those statements, Arians said that he'd been planning this move for a while and the Bucs said Tom Brady was unaware of Arians' intention until after he unretired. Todd Bowles will take over with nearly all the Super Bowl pieces still in place.
The timing does seem awfully suspicious. There were pretty much no credible rumors that Arians and Brady didn't get along. Arians is notoriously abrasive in his coaching style and Brady had just left New England in part because he wanted to be treated like the star he is and not Johnny f'ing Foxborough, but the pair did win a championship together. The partnership clearly worked and it's hard to take any notion that Brady retired in part because he couldn't stand Arians after spending two decades under the grumpiest coach in the league.
That will not stop us all from wondering what happened. Arians retiring two weeks after Brady returned is ripe for the kind of speculation that fuels weekday sports talk content. Nick Wright hopped on First Things First this morning to deliver just that, explaining why it was clear Brady had forced Arians out.
As always, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. Brady retired in part because Arians was a lot to deal with, heard that the head coach was planning to step away, saw the appeal of playing under a defensive-minded head coach who will leave well enough alone on the other side of the ball, and came back.
But it's far more juicy to wonder if Brady's retirement and the 38 days he spent retired were all part of a grand negotiation with the Glazer family to either get out of dodge or get rid of Arians. It is hard to completely buy into that given Arians is just moving upstairs rather than getting fired or agreeing to "part ways." But the last five or so years of Brady's career indicates the quarterback understands very well the power he holds and he isn't afraid to wield it.
The unfortunate part about all this is that Brady's camp tends to keep a pretty good lid on things of this nature so the likelihood of a booming insider article that lays bare the intricacies of the situation. We'll be left guessing for a while. But that is why it's such great offseason fodder.