Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians talks at length about Jonathan Dwyer arrest

Sep 19, 2014, 1:28 AM | Updated: 4:51 pm

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TEMPE, Ariz. — In the wake of Jonathan Dwyer’s arrest on charges of domestic violence Wednesday, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians held a rare Thursday media session to address the situation and take questions from reporters.

He spoke extensively about the situation, Dwyer, the team and the issue of domestic violence, generally.

Arians opened with a long statement about the situation before taking a series of questions.

“Yesterday morning, I was made aware that allegations had been made against Jonathan Dwyer of domestic violence,” he began. “We take that extremely serious. We’ll let due process take care of itself, but we (took) immediate action as far as a football team to deactivate him. Today he was placed on NFI.

“We’ll allow the court systems to take care of what is true and what isn’t true. Up until then, until he’s exonerated, he will not be a member of this football team. If and when he is exonerated, I would gladly take him back.

“But we take this extremely serious. My wife and I have been in this domestic violence (activism) for years. My wife, as most of you know, was a (court-appointed special advocate for abused children) for 18 years. So our family is extremely sensitive to this.

“We’ll move on. It’s not a distraction. It will not be a distraction. Our team has kind of gotten used to what everybody else would consider a distraction and we’ll get ready for a huge football game this Sunday.”

Was it a big shock to you when the police showed up? How did you respond to that?

“It was like the worst nightmare a coach could have right now. For me, personally, I was totally shocked because I’ve known John a long time. And it was totally out of character from what I’ve known. So I was extremely shocked by the incident, but we have to move forward.”

Did you have a chance to speak with John?

“I talked to him yesterday, yeah, before he left the building.”

How did you tell the team?

“Exactly the facts. What had happened — John had been taken in custody and we were moving forward immediately. We will sign Jalen Parmele to come back in and take his spot until it is resolved.”

Was this after practice?

“No, it was before.”

What changed in a week with Chris Rainey?

“Basically, the injuries. We brought Chris in to get ready to take Andre Ellington’s place. (He’s) a small fast back. We now brought in a bigger back because we lost a bigger back. It really had nothing to do with (domestic violence); I’m sure people will expect and write that that’s the case, but that was really not the case.”

Was it stunning for him to be accused of this?

“I was truly floored by it — knowing him for nearly four or five years now.”

What was his demeanor like when you talked to him?

“Basically, he was in shock also.”

Why the decision to act so quickly with Dwyer?

“Because we are very, very sensitive to this issue. Michael (Bidwill) and I and Steve (Keim) talked immediately and thought that was the best course of action, to make him inactive and then today be able to put him on N.F.I. immediately and let the court system handle the rest, and we move on as a football team.”

Had practice started when the police came?


Have you ever dealt with anything like this before?

“This is a new one for me and I’ve been coaching 37 years and I’ve never had anything like this at the facility or anything. I’ve seen domestic violence, don’t get me wrong, but this type of situation — no.”

It seems like a lot of domestic violence issues have been popping up lately

“Well, I think they’ve been going on for a long, long time and, finally, people are becoming aware of it and doing something about it. And it’s uncalled for — I think anyone who touches a woman or a child, in my opinion, needs to go to jail for a long time.”

With all these incidents, what is the state of the NFL in your view?

“To me it’s America, it’s not the NFL. Domestic violence has gone on for a long time. There’s something going on every day in different parts of neighborhoods but people don’t care about it. They only care about the NFL and we’re only reporting the NFL, but it’s a national problem.”

How challenging is it to have developed a relationship with a guy like Jonathan and to care about him, but then to also care about the potential victims?

“You never forget the victims. The victims come first. But you build relationships and me, as a coach — I’ve always taken the approach that these are my children. And I treat them as I would my children. And if this was my son, I would have a pretty hard time dealing with it.”

The police report his pretty graphic — have you had a chance to read it?

“I have not read the police report, I’ve had a few other things to do right now.”

Did Jonathan deny doing this when he spoke with you?


How did the team react to the news?

“I think everyone was in shock yesterday. They all know John. But we had a job to do. We had to have a good practice. We’re playing for first place and we could not allow any distractions. We had a great practice yesterday and we had a great practice today.”

In the future, would you like guys to bring this type of thing to your attention to avoid the surprise of yesterday?

“I don’t think there was anybody that knew anything about it. He was as extremely shocked as well as I was, so I don’t think he knew anything about it either.”

Did Dwyer ever make it out to the practice field?

“No, no.”

As a coach, how do you use your platform to speak about issues like this?

“Oh, as strongly as I can to totally tell them how wrong it is. And that this isn’t about being under a microscope in the NFL. This is a serious problem in the nation and around the world. Domestic violence is something that we all have to work on. I’ve been trying to raise money myself here locally to help the children in the system. We have 10,000 kids in our system here in Maricopa County who are either neglected or abused, and we need to help them. Making more awareness — if this bad scar on the NFL, as you want to say, right now makes the rest of the world aware of what’s going on, it’s damn good.”

You moved so fast with Jonathan Dwyer; why no action on Daryl Washington?

“Totally different set of circumstances. Totally different set of circumstances.”

But Washington was convicted…

“Yes he was…”

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Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians talks at length about Jonathan Dwyer arrest