Josh Weinfuss | ESPN.com
TEMPE, Ariz. — Sunday can’t come soon enough for Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.
The week is half over and the build-up to the Indianapolis Colts’ trip to Arizona has dominated headlines and taken up inches of column space. Almost half of the questions during Arians’ press conference Monday were about the emotion of playing the Colts. That number dropped to just a handful on Wednesday.
But Arians is ready for it to be over.
“Yeah, a little bit,” he said. “It was such a unique situation because there was no handbook. [Colts General Manager] Ryan Grigson did an unbelievable job and the entire staff. There are times to let it go. Hopefully, after this week we can let some of it go but never let go of the triumph that [Colts coach] Chuck [Pagano] beat that Leukemia. Never lose sight of that.”
It’ll be hard for Arians to ever separate himself from the narrative of his time with the Colts.
After Arians was reportedly forced to retire as offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2011 season, Pagano revived his coaching life, hiring him in January 2012 for the same role in Indianapolis. Then his performance as interim coach not only earned him coach of the year but it led to his current job with the Arizona Cardinals.
Even Arians can’t believe the last two years.
“From refired — excuse me, retired — to this, I don’t think anybody would have dreamt it,” Arians said with a wily smirk. “It’s a fairly tale. It truly is.
“I hate that to get an opportunity to be a head coach we had to go through last year, but it was the only way. Winning Super Bowls and getting to Super Bowls wasn’t good enough.”
But going 9-3 as an interim coach was, and, at 60, Arians became a head coach for the first time.
“You’ve got to love it,” Pagano said. “It’s a great country we live in. We laugh about it but long overdue.”
Arians has already said he wished Sunday’s game was never on the schedule. But it is and Arians is treating it like any other must-win game. Arians said he and Pagano talk “pretty much every week” but that communication has been curtailed this week.
However, Arians predicted his assistants with Colts ties will engage in a battle of textual jousting with their Indianapolis counterparts.
The hardest part for Arians on Sunday will be seeing his former players, the old staff and one of his best friends. But once the pregame neck hugs are over, it’ll be like any other Sunday afternoon.
“There will be a lot of hugging and high-fiving,” Arians said. “And then just like playing your brother in your backyard, I’m kicking your ass.”
- Covered Cardinals for azcardinals.com
- Received Master’s of Sports Journalism and Bachelor’s degrees from Indiana University