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Lars Anderson on Bruce Arians’ retirement choice: ‘He just didn’t know’

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians speaks during a press conference before an NFL training session at the London Irish rugby team training ground in the Sunbury-onThames suburb of south west London, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. The Arizona Cardinals are preparing for an NFL regular season game against the Los Angeles Rams in London on Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Author Lars Anderson knows the temperature of former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians’ emotions as well as anyone.

He watched the head coach sling drinks with the Cardinals’ front office after a day’s work, golfed with him in the offseason and helped write Arians’ book, The Quarterback Whisperer: How to Build an Elite NFL Quarterback.” Anderson also wrote The Athletic’s story explaining why Arians retired on Monday following his fifth year leading Arizona.

So when Anderson joined Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station and was asked about when Arians knew he’d retire, it wasn’t surprising to hear just how close the coach was to returning for another season.

“I’m being 100 percent honest when I thought there was a chance that we were going to have to spike the story at The Athletic, that we were going to have to kill the story, as Bruce was walking up to the podium,” Anderson said Wednesday. “He was just so torn up about it. Of course a decision like this, you have to talk it through with family, you have to look at it from every angle.

“We had talked a couple times late last week and I put something together (for a story),” Anderson said. “He was being 100 percent sincere when he said he just didn’t know. This is the thing: His heart is telling him to keep coaching, but his head is telling him he should probably step away.”

Anderson said he pitched the retirement story idea to Arians to help explain why the coach saw it important to end his coaching career. But even though Arians agreed, Anderson didn’t know if the story would run this year, next or even further down the road.

Arians’ wife, Christine, had a part in pushing the 65-year-old coach to retire, Anderson said.

While Arians wasn’t battling any specific health issues in 2017, the wear of being an NFL head coach played a part in his decision to step away from the game.

“Probably one of the hardest things for me this year was sitting at the lake this summer, and Chris said, ‘You know (our son) Jake’s going to be 40?’ And I mean, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I missed all that time,” Arians said during his Monday press conference announcing his decision.

Will Arians’ retirement keep him entirely away from football?

Anderson indicated the former Cardinals coach may not be done. At the least, Anderson said Arians would be willing to lend advice to those wanting his perspective.

“He has a plan to try to keep his hand in the game. I can’t get into what that is but I think you haven’t seen the last of B.A.,” said Anderson. “No, he’s not going to be on the sidelines for the Arizona Cardinals and that absolutely breaks his heart.

“I’m sure Bruce will be willing to give any type of advice. He certainly would be willing to take a phone call and answer any questions. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bruce showed up at the combine.”

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