The oldest NFL head coach ever? Bruce Arians is having too much fun to stop

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Bruce Arians made a bet with himself a year ago.

If he wanted to keep doing the thing he loves more than anything, if he wanted to fight back against a never-ending run of health maladies, if he wanted to be the best version of himself ... he would lose the weight.

So after winning a Super Bowl and visiting the White House, the York High grad promised to lose 50 pounds by the spring of 2022.

He's already gotten there — with one catch.

He blew out his Achilles tendon doing it.

What can Arians do but shrug? He's persevered through nearly as many injuries and health scares as job stops (14) through five decades in the business.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Raymond James Stadium.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Raymond James Stadium.

One more recovery isn't going to hold him back now at 69. The NFL's third-oldest head coach (and barely that) says he's energized to prepare for the next season.

He talked about this as he drove from his and his wife Christine's "forever home" in Georgia back to Buccaneers headquarters in Tampa. That's a seven-hour drive with a lot of cruise control on a bum leg.

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"I tried retirement and it didn't work out too good. I'm having a good time. It's easy for me with my coordinators coming back. Why not coach?

"I don’t really know anything else. And the building of relationships, the new guys coming in ...," he stopped himself in mid-sentence. "I never thought I'd coach Tom Brady, and if I was still retired I never would have won a Super Bowl (as a head coach). Coming out of the tunnel every Sunday is awesome."

FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians talks to quarterback Tom Brady (12) before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. Tom Brady has retired after winning seven Super Bowls and setting numerous passing records in an unprecedented 22-year-career. He made the announcement, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in a long post on Instagram.  (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio, File)
FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians talks to quarterback Tom Brady (12) before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. Tom Brady has retired after winning seven Super Bowls and setting numerous passing records in an unprecedented 22-year-career. He made the announcement, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in a long post on Instagram. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio, File)

He said this a few moments later: "I think football keeps you healthy. I think getting back to the game was the best medicine for me."

How Bruce Arians' coaching career started

Of course, coaching nearly killed him at the beginning, to speak. The stress of trying to handle every duty as a young head coach at Temple put him in the hospital with stomach ulcers and migraine headaches.

He eventually would battle through cancer three times as well as a torn rotator cuff, diverticulitis, adrenal fatigue and who-knows-what-else.

He saved his career by learning to delegate adeptly upon becoming an NFL head coach in his 60s.

He also comes from sturdy stock, simply put. His parents were every-day factory workers and his mother, as spunky as ever, will turn 97 at the end of March.

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He doesn't necessarily want to become the oldest NFL head coach ever — a title now held by Houston Texans interim leader Romeo Crennel at 73. (Arians, though, is the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl.)

Rather, he just wants to keep doing what inspires and fills his days more than anything else.

Getting in shape

Consider that he ruptured his Achilles while jogging in chest-high pool water. That exercise regimen has driven his weight loss, working him into his best coaching shape since at least a decade ago in Pittsburgh.

He's happy to be under 240 pounds and still dropping.

"You know how Bruce is, it’s all or nothing. Have to run as long as he can, fast as he can, hard as he can," his wife said with a laugh.

Most importantly, he's on the mend again and sounds energized by revamping a team that missed back-to-back Super Bowl shots, agonizingly so. Losing the greatest quarterback of all time to retirement? Arians is buoyed by how the core of his young team rallied through injuries to tie for the best record in the NFL last year — and how his top assistants are expected back for another run.

"We had that (retirement) talk ... so we'll see what next year brings," Christine Arians said. "He loves it. Are you kidding me?

"It's a challenge. He loves a challenge."

Frank Bodani covers Penn State football for the York Daily Record and USA Today Network. Contact him at fbodani@ydr.com and follow him on Twitter @YDRPennState.

This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians: Coaching is the best medicine