Head Coach Bruce Arians has been oft lauded for his diversity efforts within the game of football. It's a generic statement for the man that has put together perhaps the least generic coaching staff in the NFL. Not only does Arians' staff in Tampa Bay stand alone in being the only team with all Black coordinators, it is also the only staff in the league with multiple full-time female coaches. And now, Arians is receiving recognition from the Women's Sports Foundation as the 2020 Champion for Equality.
"Since taking the helm in Tampa Bay in January 2019, Arians has assembled the most gender diverse coaching staff in the NFL," announced the Women's Sports Foundation. "He has hired two female coaches as full-time assistants — a first within the league — and this offseason, the Buccaneers have added to their front office talent with the addition of Jacqueline Davidson as the team's director of football research. Indicative of his belief in equal opportunity, the two-time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year has spent his career working for gender inclusivity in what is historically known to be a male-dominated sport."
The award was presented during the 2020 Annual Salute to Women in Sports online broadcast, airing on Yahoo Sports, and was given to Arians by none other than WSF Founder Billie Jean King on October 14.
The women's rights advocate has followed Arians and his program closely, taking part in an Epix and NFL Films feature last season that highlighted both the Bucs head coach and the team's two female coaches, assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar and assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust. Arians has also participated in the Women's Careers in Football Forum hosted by the NFL as a way to further enforce his commitment to gender inclusivity within professional football.
"Our organization is so inclusive," said Arians. "The Bucs organization themselves are frontrunners in handling inclusiveness and diversity on staffs and in our building. There were no repercussions. It was just, "If they're the best people to help you win, let's hire them….It's the same thing I told my daughter a long time ago - anything is out there for you. Work hard, put your nose to the grindstone and don't give up. Don't ever give up; just keep fighting for it."
The presentation of the Champion for Equality award was even complete with a message from Arians' new quarterback, Tom Brady.
"It's so important that we continue to fight for equality in sports so we can send the right message to our kids that it doesn't matter who you are, where you live, where you come from, any of that," he said. "What matters most is the work you're willing to put in when no one is watching."
For years, the Buccaneers organization has prioritized gender equality. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation hosts the largest girls flag football tournament in the country with the Girls High School Flag Football Preseason Classic, which takes place annually at the team's AdventHealth Training Center. The team brings flag football to more than 35,000 middle school girls every year through in-school programming and has also established the Jr. Bucs Girls Flag Football League, a first-of-its-kind league in the City of Tampa where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation covers league fees for all girls who play. And this spring, the team launched the Buccaneers Girls In Football Scholarship, becoming the first NFL team to establish a nationwide academic scholarship program for female high school football players pursuing a career in sports.
"This is a well-deserved honor for Coach Arians," said Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, Co-Owner of the Buccaneers. "Gender equality is a fundamental part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organizational culture and his consistent commitment to diversity makes our team stronger, both on and off the field. Bruce's long history of hiring the most qualified coaches, regardless of race or gender, is a testament to his steadfast dedication to these principles of inclusion. We are honored to have Bruce leading our football team."