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Bruce Arians opens up about his Steelers “retirement”

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians explained to HBO's Real Sports the controversial circumstances that led to his Pittsburgh Steelers' exit. He hints that Mike Tomlin was never honest in the process.

Following the 2011 season, the Steelers fired offensive coordinator Bruce Arians but tried to sell it as a retirement. Few non-Steelers fans were fooled.

In an upcoming profile to debut Tuesday night on HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, Arians opens up about the end of his time in Pittsburgh, which happened after his contract expired.

Arians explains to Andrea Kremer that he’d been told by coach Mike Tomlin a new contract was coming, with an adjustment aimed at reflecting the team’s performance on offense. A few days later, the call came.

"[Tomlin] said, ‘I can’t get you the money,’” Arians tells Kremer. I said, ‘Okay.’ He said, ‘No, I can’t get you a contract.’ I said, ‘Are you firing me?’ He said, ‘No. . . .’

“‘Well . . . it’s just a matter of words, Mike,’” Arian said. “‘Okay. If I don’t have a contract, I’m fired.’

“And he said, ‘I’m going to fly down and talk.’ [I] said, ‘Why waste the money and the time?’ And so that was it. Walked upstairs and told my wife. And I’ve never seen her cry. And she cried.”

Arians thinks that the firing happened because some thought he was “too close” with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

“I had done a good job,” Arians contends. “Maybe not the right image, but it was a damn good job. I was pissed. But again, time heals things.”

Time does heal things, especially when the retirement is temporary and ends with a Coach of the Year award as offensive coordinator of the Colts and then three successful seasons as head coach of the Cardinals, the second of which resulted in a second Coach of the Year award.