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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Super Bowl-winning head coach, Bruce Arians, is stepping down and will be replaced by his defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, the team announced Wednesday evening.
Arians, 69, will move to the front office to become “senior football consultant,” the team said. He was hired in 2019, and the Bucs went on to win Super Bowl after the 2020 season in Tampa Bay.
Arians told NBC Sports and the Los Angeles Times that he wanted Bowles to succeed him when he stepped down.
In a statement by the team, Arians said he chose to step down now so Bowles would have the best chance at success. Star quarterback Tom Brady this month reversed his decision to retire and will return to Tampa Bay.
Brady’s decision “confirmed for me that it was the right time to pass the torch to Todd,” Arians said.
Bowles, a former head coach of the New York Jets, has been defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers since 2019.
“It was evident to everyone in our organization over the last three years that Todd deserved to be an NFL head coach,” General Manager Jason Licht said in a team statement. “I have always felt that if this situation ever arose, we had the best candidate for the job already in-house.”
Bowles, who is Black, will be the sixth minority head coach in the NFL.
Arians said that after 50 years, he’s ready to move on. He said he began conservations a few weeks ago about a succession plan.
“I love football. I love the relationships, the strategy, the competition — everything. It has been one hell of a ride, but I know this is the right time for me to make this transition,” he said.
The change comes after Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion, announced his retirement from football in February, then reversed course in March and said he was returning for a 23rd NFL season.
Bowles said in a statement that Tampa has become home.
“As an organization, we have all the pieces in place to continue the winning standard that has been established here in recent years,” he said.
Bowles and Arians both were with the Arizona Cardinals, Arians as head coach and Bowles as defensive coordinator.
Brady and the Buccaneers made it to the postseason last year, but their hopes of a repeat Super Bowl win were dashed when they lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs.
Brady, in announcing he would return, tweeted that he had “unfinished business.” On Wednesday, he thanked Arians in an Instagram post, saying he was “a huge part” of his decision to join Tampa Bay in the first place.
“You are a true NFL legend and pioneer for all the work you have done to make the league more diverse and inclusive,” Brady wrote.
Bowles, Arians, Licht and team owner and co-chairman Joel Glazer are scheduled to hold an introductory news conference Thursday.
CORRECTION (March 31, 2022, 8:10 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of the departing Bucs’ coach. He is Bruce Arians, not Arains.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.
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