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Arians’ departure a shell game of semantics

Pittsburgh Steelers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has retired.  Jason LaCanfora of NFL Network reports that the retirement occurred after the Steelers told Arians that his contract would not be renewed.

But the same source who tells LaCanfora that Arians was told his contract wouldn’t be renewed told LaCanfora that Arians wasn’t fired.

It’s a matter of semantics.  When an employee under contract has that contract expire and the employer tells the employee that contract won’t be renewed, the employee necessarily has been . . . wait for it . . . fired.  It happened to Mike Tice in Minnesota six years ago, and it has happened to countless other head coaches and assistant coaches whose contracts end along with their employment.

Millions of Americans show up for work every day without contracts for employment.  They’re called “at-will” employees, which means that the relationship continues only as long as both sides want it to continue.  And if/when the employer decides not to continue the relationship, the employee has been, yes, fired.

But the story gets even more interesting.  Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explains that coach Mike Tomlin had told Arians on multiple occasions that Tomlin wanted Arians to return in 2012, and that Arians had told others he had planned to be back.  Citing unnamed sources, Dulac says that the decision came from someone higher in the organization than Tomlin, even though owner Art Rooney II said on WDVE radio before Friday’s retirement announcement that Arians’ status was “really Mike’s decision.”

If Tomlin was indeed trumped, it’s at least the second time this year that a Tomlin decision was vetoed by someone else in the organization.  Tomlin, as others have reported and as PFT has learned, led running back Tiki Barber to believe that the Steelers would sign him — and Tomlin ultimately was prevented from doing so.

The bigger question will be whether and to what extent this move adversely affects the relationship between the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.  Per Dulac, Roethlisberger is upset that Arians won’t be back.

Roethlisberger’s discontent also could arise at least in part from the fact that, unlike two years ago, he was unable to save Arians’ job.

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31 Responses to “Arians’ departure a shell game of semantics”
  1. roamingabriel says: Jan 21, 2012 1:13 PM

    This team reminds me of the Colts!

    Time to blow it up!!!

  2. myspaceyourface says: Jan 21, 2012 1:18 PM

    We need an OC that will stand up to Ben and restore his mechanics. He has been able to do whatever he wants for far too long.

    Good bye predictable play calling.

  3. harrisonhits2 says: Jan 21, 2012 1:25 PM

    Maybe Arians was just tired of working with a rapist.

  4. runtheball says: Jan 21, 2012 1:25 PM

    They need an OC that will mix up the play calling and be flexible.

  5. muckman207 says: Jan 21, 2012 1:25 PM

    Arians was Flabbergasted!!!

  6. jimmer2372 says: Jan 21, 2012 1:29 PM

    roamingabriel says: Jan 21, 2012 1:13 PM This team reminds me of the Colts! Time to blow it up!!!

    Right on buddy. Steelers were 12-4 and the Colts were 2-14. You’re smart.

  7. ttommytom says: Jan 21, 2012 1:29 PM

    As per Tiki: Dis a Mara and a Rooney won’t be hiring you.

  8. ticalcaldwell says: Jan 21, 2012 1:29 PM

    I loved Arians.. he was outstanding for a long time

  9. pigbladder says: Jan 21, 2012 1:45 PM

    The steelers organization has a proven track record. Ben doesnt make the calls. They need better play calling, it was atrocious on both sides of the ball against denver.
    As for tiki… Right… Steelers always make those kinds of free agent pick ups…not!

  10. tomthebombtracy says: Jan 21, 2012 1:46 PM

    Something was awry with the offense.

    A 4,000 yard QB.
    Two 1,000 yard receivers.
    A return guy 1ith 1,000 yards for field position.
    A runner headed for 1,000 yards before a late season injury.

    Yet 21st in scoring.

    Typical was Ben with the ball is his hand just before end of regulation and need 5 yards for the winning FG try….and another sack.

    Steelers have the youngest O in the AFC but that’s no excuse.

    Too much underachievement when it counted.

  11. blackqbwhiterb says: Jan 21, 2012 1:50 PM

    He was never the big problem, the big problem is an offensive line that’s not good enough. Fix that, everything gets better. Not that 12-4 is such an awful year either…..

  12. Deb says: Jan 21, 2012 1:53 PM

    If Art Rooney is making these decisions, it’s the first sign he’s got some of his father’s horse sense. Ben Roethlisberger is an integral part of the team, but he doesn’t need to be calling the shots. Ben has already demonstrated that he’s not the world’s best decisionmaker.

    Arians streamlined the offense when Whis left, making it easier for Ben to master, and he was capable of calling a good game. But he didn’t call a balanced game. He couldn’t adjust when things went wrong. Both he and Tomlin are too concerned about supporting Ben. San Francisco ended our season. Tomlin saying “He wanted to play and I wanted to support him” still burns me. That is not the coach’s mandate.

    Ben is a grown man; he doesn’t need babying. He needs a strong offensive line. He needs more study and work on his mechanics. He’s got extraordinary natural talent but relies too much on the idea that he can pull miracles out of the air when things get tough. The older he gets, the more he’ll need to rely on his brains over his legs. He needs an OC who’ll help him grow, not one he can run. He needs to stop buying into his own mythology and spend more time doing his homework.

  13. pitt9292 says: Jan 21, 2012 1:59 PM

    Im sure the Steelers will do their due dilligence in finding a new OC. Idiots like romangabriel just dont know enough about football with his off the hook comments. The Steelers front office is one of the best and it has been proven time and time again. With a very young offense and a Def that is and will getting younger, dont look for them to just fall outta contention.

  14. melikefootball says: Jan 21, 2012 2:11 PM

    The Rooney’s will make a decesion best for the team not what media deems is right for the team. They had no problem getting rid of Homes which looks smarter with each day. This team has some good young tallent and will be compeative no matter what the Steeler haters seem to feel.

  15. dirtdawg55 says: Jan 21, 2012 2:23 PM

    Deb, you struck a nerve re: Tomlin. I was similarly burned by Tomlin’s explanation. I would have been content with “it gave us the best chance to win” but Tomlin’s response was one of the worst things I have ever heard him say.

    Tomlin has an accountability to the team, not Big Ben. I have a concern Tomlin and Arians have been trying to placate Big Ben. Well, here is a news flash. Good team mates don’t let themselves become the focus and individuals with a dodgy and sketchy past should be grateful their team stands by them in the first place.

    Big Ben can talk about the potential of this team all he wants but they didn’t get it done, especially in games that mattered.

    And Arians was as much to blame for that as anybody. One top ten offense in eight years as an OC? Other OCs have taken more heat with better records than that.

  16. citizenstrange says: Jan 21, 2012 2:32 PM

    The Steelers had possibly the easiest schedule in the history of the NFL last year.

    Here’s what they did with it:

    They scored 30 points or over three times.

    They scored 20 points or under eight times. EIGHT TIMES!

    The highlight of the season was beating the Patriots scoring 23 points (25 minus the two point safety that Polamalu illegally batted which was a horribly wrong call) against the worst defense in the entire NFL.

    Blown out by the Ravens in the opener 35-7 and again by the 49ers 20-3.

    One and done against the Broncos scoring six points in the first half.

    Whoever the new OC is Roethlisberger better get with the progam because he is letting “my guys” down BIG TIME.

  17. tomthebombtracy says: Jan 21, 2012 2:34 PM

    Deb….I think you nailed it pretty well.

    The other thing that I think chafed the front office was what seemed like an annual appeal for Arians not to retire.

    Chuck Noll once said to a player “if you’re thinking about retiring, you already have.” And he took his own advice with his surprise retirement.

    Lame duck coaches suck. Look 6-10 Cowher after SB 40.

    The Steelers might have gotten tired of the retirement game.

    Now a clue to all this is whether they hire from inside (Randy Finctner, the QB coach) or they go totally outside. That might be the bookend on what they were thinking.

  18. rayriceisnice says: Jan 21, 2012 2:38 PM

    It doesn’t matter….one word….Ravens

  19. bdb808757 says: Jan 21, 2012 3:08 PM

    Ravens have won how many AFC championships in the last 12 years?

  20. brownsclown says: Jan 21, 2012 3:19 PM

    This is a team that desperately needs Braylon ‘hands of stone’ Edwards to join the receiving corps and restore credability to the offense!

  21. ravenmaniacisback says: Jan 21, 2012 3:26 PM

    Why would they bring LeBeau back? I would think Tomlin would clean house but I uess he does not have much authority……..

  22. steelersmichele says: Jan 21, 2012 4:07 PM

    You really do have a problem with the Steelers and the way they word statements, don’t you. Semantics. That’s priceless coming from an attorney–You guys say the same thing fifty different ways just to make sure you cover your butt.

    Ever think that the Steelers were being professional when they let Arians “retire”? They could have pulled a Jerry Jones or Al Davis and fired him on national television, but maybe they decided that it’s better not to make a scene and part ways amicably.

  23. timmons94 says: Jan 21, 2012 4:53 PM

    this is an offense with weapons galore.
    stud rb in Redman, great back in Mendenhall
    stud wr’s in Wallace if he is resigned, Antonio Brown- a star, Emmanual Sanders
    two stud te’s- Miller, and Weslye Saunders-next great te in NFL..Saunders is flat out a stud.
    this team needs to reshore the oline and this offense is unstoppable
    and Ben is best qb in NFL. period

  24. ridgeavenuehr says: Jan 21, 2012 5:19 PM

    Arians was nothing short of genius in his game plan against New England. Nothing could have been more frustrating with every game after that. How many wide receiver screens can one team run!

  25. tobiasjodter says: Jan 21, 2012 6:25 PM

    citizenstrange says: Jan 21, 2012 2:32 PM

    The Steelers had possibly the easiest schedule in the history of the NFL last year.

    ——————————————–

    Where do you get that information? 7 of their 16 games were against teams that made the playoffs. How many teams faced that many? Let me know…

  26. themanchine says: Jan 21, 2012 7:55 PM

    Hue Jackson, Michael Bush and O-Line help.

  27. bigbeefyd says: Jan 21, 2012 8:17 PM

    blackqbwhiterb says:
    Jan 21, 2012 1:50 PM
    He was never the big problem, the big problem is an offensive line that’s not good enough. Fix that, everything gets better. Not that 12-4 is such an awful year either…..

    ****************************

    Um…12-5

    Sincerely,
    Bronco fans everywhere

  28. agc99 says: Jan 21, 2012 9:16 PM

    Is Tiki Barber in line for the job?

  29. jr4real says: Jan 21, 2012 9:18 PM

    There are some dumb comments from ravens and browns fans. Maybe it’s kids night on the computer.

    Anyway, Tom Clements would be great. I think GB seems to want to make him their OC though. No Haley please!!

  30. msclemons67 says: Jan 21, 2012 9:19 PM

    The Steelers allowed Arians to save face rather than publicly fire him. Why is that a problem?

    It was a class move by a class organization. I guess class offends gossip sites.

  31. dmretrogames says: Jan 22, 2012 1:56 AM

    Arians was a bad OC. Who cares about the identity of the axe man, as long as he was cut.

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