Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said he will coach on the field in the 2020 season and will wear a mask and a face shield due to the threat of the coronavirus.
Arians is 67 and has survived multiple bouts of cancer, which puts him in a higher-risk group compared to other coaches and players around the league.
"There's no chance of me coaching from a box," said Arians, known for getting fired up on the field and even yelling at officials to the point of spitting. "Once we get a shield that I like, I'll have my mask and shield on and I won't be able to spit on 'em anyway."
Arians said he not only trusts the league's safety protocols but is "very confident" that the NFL can pull off a full 16-game season.
"I'm very confident. I think the protocols that are in place are extremely safe and it's gonna be coaches, players and staff being smart outside the building. Nobody's gonna get sick over here because everybody's got a negative test that's in the building, so you're gonna get sick somewhere else. We've just got to have a lot of discipline this year, and I have a lot of confidence we'll get it done."
Arians also said he believes that despite no offseason program, new quarterback Tom Brady is ahead of the curve in terms of learning the offense, although he would have liked to see Brady get live reps in the preseason. He believes Brady's experience will make up for it, although he thinks overall play around the league will suffer with no offseason.
"I think he's way ahead of the curve," Arians said of Brady. "He's a very bright guy. The terminology was the big thing. As we now get together starting tomorrow, we'll start to collaborate more. So I think he's in a great spot as far as that goes.
"All the guys that have been working out with him see his intensity level even at those types of workouts and only know that they're gonna intensify when we get out there for real. It's been great. You would have hoped we'd have spring practice so all of [the players] could get over the 'awe' -- especially the young players -- of Tom Brady walking into the locker room, and Gronk, but we'll get through that I think in a week and maybe each guy will have enough balls to go talk to him (laughs)."
Was there ever a doubt that Arians would coach this season, considering he already retired once, after 2018, and did Brady play a role in him returning despite a global pandemic?
"There was never a doubt that I was gonna coach," he said. "Especially once I'd seen the protocols and everything that's in place. Whether it was Tom or whoever the quarterback would be -- I'm gonna get excited, I really like our ball club. Knock on wood we can stay healthy this year and do the things we want to do, to get to the playoffs. Having Tom adds to the excitement obviously, but I would have been all-in either way."