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Bruce Arians keeps needling Steelers over 2012 exit

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Bruce Arians just can't help himself.

Four years after his separation from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arians is still needling the franchise for his clumsy departure. After the 2011 season, the Steelers announced Arians -- who has since earned NFL Coach of the Year awards with the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals -- had retired. Arians later joked he had been "refired." He reportedly wanted to stay in Pittsburgh and told people close to him that he would just days before the announcement.

Arians used the NFL owners meetings to deliver a friendly jab when asked about Ben Roethlisberger's growth in the Steelers' offense.

"They are opening it up and not getting fired for it," Arians said.

"They" being the Steelers' coaches and the offense led by coordinator Todd Haley.

Things worked out for both parties. The Cardinals and Steelers ranked first and third, respectively, in NFL regular-season total offense. Arians has long admired Roethlisberger but has a prime signal-caller in Carson Palmer.

And he doesn’t harbor hard feelings toward the Steelers, despite having a little fun at their expense.

"Hey, I'm the most thankful guy in the world,” Arians said. “All this would have never happened. I think [Steelers chairman] Dan Rooney is the classiest man in the NFL. I love Mr. Rooney."