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Bruce Arians is still pissed at Butch Davis after all these years

Before Bruce Arians found his final job in football with the Steelers, he was the offensive coordinator of the division rival Browns.

Arians was on the wrong side of the January, 2003 Browns-Steelers playoff shootout (Tommy Maddox!  Kelly Holcomb!) and made it clear Tuesday he’s not a fan of former Browns coach Butch Davis.

“Our head coach lost the game,” Arians said.  “He called off the dogs on defense.  You just don’t let Tommy Maddox sit there and go against a prevent defense.  He basically fired [defensive coordinator] Foge Fazio at halftime.  Foge was blitzing.  We had them beat. They knew we had them beat.”

Arians says Davis took over the playcalling at halftime and insisted the team play his prevent defense.

“I don’t care what anyone says.  I was on that sideline,” Arians said.

At this point, you may be wondering why I’m writing about this nine years later.  I’m not really sure, other than I thought it was hilarious and MDS thought it was postworthy.  Plus, that was an underrated game on a memorable day for football fans back in ’03.  (The Trey Junkin botched snap Giants-49ers game was later that day.)

The end to the story for Arians, of course, was a happy one.  He says he still hears about a key drop Dennis Northcutt had late in the game.

“Hines [Ward]  brings it up all the time.  ‘If [Dennis] Northcutt catches that ball, you might be a head coach right now.'” Arians recalled.   “But I wouldn’t have all these Super Bowl rings.”

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23 Responses to “Bruce Arians is still pissed at Butch Davis after all these years”
  1. iluvwikileaks says: Feb 2, 2011 1:15 PM

    I remember this game. Great comback for the Steelers! Part of Tommy Maddox’s brief moment in the sun before fading into total obscurity.

  2. masteel says: Feb 2, 2011 1:23 PM

    EPIC game ….and a ridiculous come back for the Steelers who probably should have lost to the Browns.

    I forget when it turned – but prevent defense is a perfect title for that scheme.

    IT prevents you from winning ……

  3. BC says: Feb 2, 2011 1:29 PM

    You just don’t let Tommy Maddox sit there and go against a prevent defense.
    What is this guy smoking and can I have some? The dude was an XFL-er. Get a grip, man. Or have your doctor perscribe some Nardil. Get back to reality Bruce.

  4. blastfurniss says: Feb 2, 2011 1:36 PM

    I’m glad I’m not the only one still pissed at Butch Davis. While not newsworthy, as a Browns fan I find it interesting. CBS caught Butch and Fazio arguing on the sidelines as the game came apart. This was the Browns first (and still only) playoff game since the return in 1999. The future looked wide open at that point. But as Arians points out in that interview, Tim Couch’s shoulder was toast from getting pounded playing for an expansion team. Then the team had to purge vets like Earl Holmes who lead them to the playoffs. Two years later Butch was having panic attacks and quit. Yet, he’s the only winner in this story. He gets 12 million bucks from Randy Lerner and goes back to coach college football.

  5. calzone21411 says: Feb 2, 2011 1:36 PM

    more importantly than why you are writing this, is why am I reading such a stupid post.

  6. jbl429 says: Feb 2, 2011 1:36 PM

    (The Trey Junkin botched snap Giants-49ers game was later that day.)

    Ugh, thanks for reminding me Gregg!

  7. txttn says: Feb 2, 2011 1:39 PM

    Maybe Arians isn’t a head coach because he throws his peers under the bus publicly and is openly insubordinate. I’m sure he’s not making many friends around the league with rants like that. But it is entertaining….

  8. ampatsisahypocrite says: Feb 2, 2011 1:44 PM

    I wish Bruce Arians would just go away.

  9. steelerfan12 says: Feb 2, 2011 1:50 PM

    I’ve developed a scientific theory that any teams with initials on their jerseys are automotically disqualified from winning the Super Bowl. Anyone care to comment? Did the ’85 Bears have the Halas initials on their shirts? I remember that season and that Super Bowl, but I don’t recall if anyone was sporting initials then.

    P.S. Go Steelers. PLEASE let the Steelers lift the Lombardi Trophy in front of the team Lombardi coached. PLEASE.

  10. tobiasjodter says: Feb 2, 2011 2:08 PM

    Aaah, I remember the game so well… in fact, when I first heard BA was getting the OC job promotion with the Steelers – the first thing I thought was: “how is it possible the Steelers could hire an OC who was involved in blowing that game against the Steelers”. I can still see his blank stare and forlorn gaze on the sidelines…

    However, I am very reluctantly coming around to the idea that perhaps BA does know what he is doing…l

  11. Bubby Brister says: Feb 2, 2011 2:25 PM

    “What is this guy smoking and can I have some? The dude was an XFL-er. Get a grip, man. Or have your doctor perscribe some Nardil. Get back to reality Bruce.”

    In all fairness, that was probably one of the Steelers better passing offenses I’ve ever seen… Tommy Gun lit some defenses up that year.

    Of course, the next year the offensive line (which was great) wasn’t as good and we saw how good he really was… but I remember people were calling Maddox the next Kurt Warner. Ha. He was magical for about a good 10 weeks.

  12. Jack Burton says: Feb 2, 2011 2:47 PM

    Anyone who thinks Tommy Maddox didn’t have a good year is doing the drugs. To go from selling insurance in Irving to winning in the playoffs is the proof in the pudding.

  13. knightringonow says: Feb 2, 2011 2:52 PM


  14. hekofit says: Feb 2, 2011 2:54 PM

    I was at that game in my full Browns garb, surrounded by Stiller fans. As the it looked more and more like the Browns were going to win, the Pittsburgh fans around us got more and more angry and nasty.
    Then came the fourth quarter and the prevent defense. Yeah, this was a post I needed to read. I’m still not over that game.

  15. mswravens says: Feb 2, 2011 3:21 PM

    I don’t know why the hell he’s bitching…The Ravens have provided payback for him by laying down against the Steelers again….and again….and again…and again….

    I’m glad to hear someone come clean like this, because I imagine in 10 years we will hear about how Harbaugh/Mattison & Cameron’s lousy coaching cost us games…and who knows what else…these last couple of years!!!

  16. stairwayto7 says: Feb 2, 2011 3:24 PM

    That is why the worthless, classlass Browns organization will NEVER win a Super Bowl and also why they will never be in the Steelers class. Browns = ZERO Super Bowls
    Steelers= Going for #7!

  17. immortaljunk says: Feb 2, 2011 3:27 PM

    I LOVED that game! One of the best Steeler Browns games ever…

  18. BC says: Feb 2, 2011 3:31 PM

    The Trey Junkin play almost killed me. The Giants were on a roll and ready to smoke anyone in their path. Then they cough up a (if I recall) 34-14 lead, and then the Junkin play.
    Much Budweiser consumed that evening.

  19. CKL says: Feb 2, 2011 3:41 PM

    That was one of those games that was so epic that even if you weren’t rooting for either team (like me, my team didn’t make the playoffs that year) it still got you all tensed up watching it.

  20. Deb says: Feb 2, 2011 6:13 PM

    @txttn …

    Aw, come on! It’s been nine years. After nine years, it’s not throwing colleagues under the bus, it’s telling war stories. We all (most of us anyway) like to hear about the battles behind the scenes. That’s what those America’s Game documentaries on the Super Bowl are all about. Get a grip already.

    Personally, I think any story about the stupidity of a prevent defense is a good story.

  21. tobiasjodter says: Feb 2, 2011 6:19 PM

    As an aside, Tommy Maddox will always rank high on my list of favorite Steeler QB’s. He’s the guy that finally convinced Cowher to show Kordell Stewart the door. All Steeler fans should be grateful.

  22. qb19 says: Feb 2, 2011 8:27 PM

    “Part of Tommy Maddox’s brief moment in the sun before fading into total obscurity.”

    Before Keith Bulluck clocked him and the Nashville EMS brought him back to life.

  23. Joseph says: Feb 24, 2011 11:58 AM

    It’s nine years later and seriously.. it’s over and done with. However.. Arians is right that Davis did help cost us the game. Cleveland was in complete control until the 2nd half rolled around.

    At the same time though.. despite all of that.. if Dennis “Dropcutt” doesn’t drop a 3rd down pass right before the two minute warning the game is over. Cleveland could have taken the clock almost all the way to zero.

    Either way meh.

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