History beckons for veteran coaches Andy Reid and Bruce Arians in Super Bowl LV

Ian Parker, PA
·4-min read

Andy Reid and Bruce Arians will make history on Sunday as the oldest coaches to go head-to-head in a Super Bowl.

Reid, who turns 63 next month, returns to the showpiece with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs a year after ending his long wait for a first career Super Bowl win as head coach.

He will pit his wits against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Arians, who at 68 is the oldest coach to make his Super Bowl debut and can become the oldest ever winner if he can claim what would be his first career title as head coach.

In a league where coaching searches so often fixate on who might be the next hot-shot young co-ordinator, this is a match-up between two men with a combined 56 years of NFL experience.

“We are a little bit older and there is experience that comes with that and I guess you could say wisdom,” said Reid, who has led the Chiefs to five consecutive AFC West titles, and will be in his third Super Bowl as a head coach.

“There are a lot of good young football coaches that I look forward to seeing continue to grow in this business. We’re lucky to have them in the NFL.

“By chance a few of the older guys have gotten to this point. I’d probably attribute that to good players, and then a little bit of experience.”

Reid has long been known as a players’ coach, and Kansas City’s win last year could hardly have been more popular given how many former players were rooting for his success.

“I try to treat people the way I’d want to be treated,” he said. “I think, whether it’s through what I’ve learned in church or family, I think we’re here as teachers and that’s what I do.

“So that’s how I look at myself as a teacher and in my case men, young men.

“And whether it’s on the field or off the field, if I can give them any experience to help them…become better players or husbands…fathers, I try to do that.”

Arians has been part of two Super Bowl wins as an assistant but only stepped up to be a head coach in his own right in 2013, taking over the Arizona Cardinals after impressing in an interim role with the Indianapolis Colts.

Arians retired in 2017 citing medical concerns but was persuaded to return by Tampa Bay in 2019, signing a four-year deal. Having walked away from the game once before he now seems to be playing with house money.

In a coaching career which began in the college ranks back in 1975, Arians has seen pretty much everything.

“There’s nothing really new in this game,” he said on Thursday. “It’s a cyclical game. Jet-motion and all that stuff is popular now, but they ran that in Mississippi junior colleges back when I was at Mississippi State, so it’s nothing really new.

“There’s nothing you can invent in this game, but you can go back and get some great stuff looking through history. But you have to adapt to stay ahead.”

The offensively-minded coach has a “no risk it, no biscuit” approach which he insists he applies in all areas of his life.

“When I was young, one of my coaches put the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling in our playbook,” he said. “It just talks about not being afraid to throw your hat in the ring, fail or win, bounce back and keep on going.

“I apply it to both football and everyday life. You’re not guaranteed the next day.”

And if he does emerge as a winner on Sunday night, he will not be satisfied.

Asked if it might be the moment to retire again, Arians was firm in his answer.

“Hell no,” he said. “I’m going for two.”