Bruce Arians: 'I was pissed' when Steelers fired me

Bruce Arians' decades-long trek through the collegiate and NFL coaching ranks has had its share of celebrations and disappointments.

One of the most difficult moments in Arians' career came after the 2011 season when the Pittsburgh Steelers chose not to retain him as the team's offensive coordinator.

In an interview with Andrea Kremer for HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Arians said he felt betrayed by the Steelers after the team did not renew his contract. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in March 2012 that he ultimately made the decision to replace Arians with Todd Haley, but Kremer said Arians believes the Steelers forced Tomlin's hand.

"(Tomlin) said, 'I can't get you the money,'" Arians told Kremer. "I said, 'OK.' He said, 'No, I can't get you a contract.' I said, 'Are you firing me?' He said, 'No.' Well, it's just a matter of words, Mike, OK. If I don't have a contract, I'm fired.'"

Arians still doesn't understand why the Steelers decided he had to go. He speculated he might have been dismissed because some within the Steelers' organization believed he was "too close" to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

"...I had done a good job," Arians said. "Maybe not the right image, but it was a damn good job. I was pissed. But again, time heals things."

Arians said he thought he was legitimately retired after being dumped by the Steelers, but his recollection of the bitterness he once felt quickly transformed into a satisfying smirk when he told Kremer, "and then Chuck (Pagano) called. And everything changed."

It certainly did. As offensive coordinator of the Colts, Arians won NFL Coach of the Year honors after taking over active head coaching duties for Pagano when he began treatment for leukemia. He then landed his first head coaching job at 60 with the Cardinals in 2013 before winning coach of the year again in 2014.

Although the Arians post-Pittsburgh narrative has been very positive for him, it remains clear he still harbors some resentment about what happened.

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