View Full Version : Starkey: Cancer survivor Arians on a roll

08-07-2009, 05:26 PM

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Starkey: Cancer survivor Arians on a roll

By Joe Starkey
Friday, August 7, 2009

Life is good these days for oft-criticized Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who has realized two dreams in the past six months.

On Feb. 1, he called the plays for a Super Bowl-winning team. On May 15, he played 18 holes at Augusta National Golf Club.

Here's the twist: Arians' predecessor, Ken Whisenhunt, was heavily involved in both events.

Whisenhunt coaches the Arizona Cardinals, of course, but he also has connections at Augusta. Wouldn't you love to have eavesdropped as Arians and Whisenhunt walked the course, barely three months after the Steelers' 27-23 victory in Super Bowl XLII?

Actually, Arians insists there was no talk of football. He was too busy pinching himself as he traversed one of the world's most scenic and fabled courses.

"I shot 79 and had no three-putts," he said Thursday from Steelers training camp in Latrobe. "That was my goal: No three putts. Whiz shot 75. I'm good, but he's really good. He always beats me."

Not always, as the final score of the Super Bowl would attest. But you know what? That epic victory won on a play Arians drew up couldn't begin to compare to the elation Arians felt in the spring of 2007.

That's when he beat cancer.

Whisenhunt pops up in this story, too. Arians was the Steelers' wide receivers coach in the winter of '07, and he would have followed Whisenhunt to Arizona if new Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hadn't promoted him to coordinator.

"Everything happens for a reason," Arians said. "Had I gone to Arizona with Kenny, I probably wouldn't have gotten a physical that year. But I stayed, and that week, I got my physical."

A routine exam showed that Arians had an elevated PSA count. Too much PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, in the blood can indicate a man has either a benign enlarged prostate or cancer. Only a biopsy can tell the difference.

Arians' doctor did not think it was cancer but ordered a biopsy, just in case.

"Boom, there it was," Arians said. "Mike (Tomlin) had been on the job about a month, and here I come in, saying, 'Hey man, I got cancer, I gotta get out of here.' He was great about it."

The excruciating wait between the biopsy and the operation was about eight weeks, during which time Arians stayed busy rewriting the Steelers' playbook. Doctors had determined the cancer was growing, so Arians underwent a radical prostatectomy in April of '07. He didn't need chemotherapy, because the cancer was contained in the prostate.

Since then, tests have shown that Arians, 56, is cancer-free. He kept his ordeal out of the public eye until right around Father's Day of this year, when he was approached to do a prostate-cancer awareness talk at Holy Spirit Hospital in Harrisburg, near his hometown of York.

"I thought it was time to do it, especially around Father's Day," said Arians, who has two grown children and a 15-year-old granddaughter. "All us guys who are over 40 and have children, the kids deserve their dad to go get checked, you know? It's such a simple exam."

Arians always has been a happy-go-lucky guy, but emerging on the other side of cancer has made his outlook even rosier.

"It changed everything," he said. "Every way you look at life changes when they tell you you have cancer."

One thing that didn't change was Arians' attitude toward his many critics. He didn't care what we had to say before. He certainly doesn't now.

"My wife (Christine) doesn't like it when I get called ugly names, but it's OK; it's part of the job," Arians said. "Everybody can call plays, especially after the fact. I get some very interesting plays in the mail."

Such as?

"Reverses with all these passes. There are 13 guys on the field. Crazy stuff."

There was nothing crazy about the play "62 Scat Flasher Z Level" that Arians called in to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with 42 seconds left in the Super Bowl.

Santonio Holmes was the third option on the play. Roethlisberger somehow found him.

"Probably the best throw I've ever seen," Arians said.

How about the catch?

"The catch was good. 'Tone kept his toes down. But to fit the ball in that pigeonhole was unbelievable."

The same could be said for Arians' life these days.

It's unbelievably good.

Joe Starkey can be reached at jstarkey@tribweb.com or 412-320-7810

08-08-2009, 08:15 AM
What a great read on BA! :tt03::drink:

As is well known on this board, I am a huge supporter of Coach Arians and think he has done a great job with his offense. I don't agree 100% of the time with what he calls, but that's why he's in the position he is in, has not only Coach Tomlin's trust but the Rooneys' trust and why I'm a fan on the outside looking in. :tt02:

He won the double whammy - CALLING the play that won the SB for the Steelers and most importantly, winning the battle against cancer! :applaudit::hatsoff:

08-08-2009, 08:26 AM
Thank you for posting this. I really enjoyed this article. Very encouraging.

08-08-2009, 09:53 AM
Wow...I had no idea. Good for him...does sound like he has a positive outlook.

08-08-2009, 11:02 AM
Oh great, now that Bruce blurted out the play it's going to be waaay too predictable to work :rolleyes:

08-08-2009, 01:47 PM
Oh great, now that Bruce blurted out the play it's going to be waaay too predictable to work :rolleyes:

It's very simple, my dear Psyychoward86 - the play name will be changed. Voila! :thumbsup:

08-08-2009, 03:05 PM
Oh great, now that Bruce blurted out the play it's going to be waaay too predictable to work :rolleyes:

I don't think having a play being reported in an article means that teams will be able to know that it is being run during a game. Peyton Manning has been mic'd up for games when he has been recorded on tape calling formations, plays, and alerts. Hasn't affected Indianapolis any.

O Sensei
08-08-2009, 04:34 PM
God bless his lucky ass...
Now fix the damn offense!:wink02::wave::wink02:

08-08-2009, 06:19 PM
:chuckle: Me thinks Psyychoward86 was being snarky....

(do we have a snarky smiley? :noidea: :wink02:)

Great to hear about Arians.

I am not AS big a supporter of his as HTG... but tend to support him quite a bit more than most it seems.

However, I think we are all glad that he has beaten cancer.