INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians returned to Indianapolis on Monday night after being released from a Baltimore hospital following a 36-hour stay for an undisclosed illness.
Team owner Jim Irsay told The Associated Press in a text message that Arians was accompanied by two team doctors, had been medicated and appeared to be on the mend.
“He was in good spirits (and) is trending (in) right direction,” Irsay wrote.
Arians was admitted to the hospital Sunday morning after complaining he felt ill at the team breakfast. Without Arians, quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen called the plays in the 24-9 season-ending loss to the Ravens.
Doctors ran a series of tests. Head coach Chuck Pagano acknowledged earlier Monday that although each of the tests was negative, the doctors decided to keep Arians in the hospital until his blood pressure stabilized.
“Whatever he’s dealing with, they would have let him come home early this morning, but whatever he’s dealing with affected his blood pressure and they’re not going to release him until they get the blood pressure under control, which they will,” Pagano said during a regularly-scheduled afternoon news conference.
The Colts couldn’t wait to get Arians back in town.
They’re next task is keeping him in the locker room — though players and coaches believe Arians has done enough to warrant getting a head coaching job. It’s a delicate balancing act for the Colts, who have given permission to at least two teams, Chicago and Philadelphia, to speak with Arians about their coaching vacancies.
There has been speculation that Cleveland and San Diego are also interested in Arians.
Teams seeking a younger, more image-conscious coach may not be interested in the 60-year-old Arians, who has a penchant for telling it like it is and in a folksy way. His only previous head-coaching experience came during a six-year tenure at Temple in the 1980s.
But it’s hard to argue with the rest of his resume.
After Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in September, Arians became the interim coach and guided the Colts to a 9-3 mark. That tied the NFL record for most victories after a midseason coaching change.
He mentored Peyton Manning, Tim Couch, Ben Roethlisberger and now Andrew Luck. He won two Super Bowls as an assistant in Pittsburgh, served on Paul “Bear” Bryant’s staff at Alabama and has had a big part in two of the biggest turnarounds in NFL history — the 10-game improvement of the 1999 Colts and Indy’s nine-game improvement this year.
Clearly, the Colts (11-6) want him to come back, but they also understand why he’s a hot commodity on the coaching carousel only one year after he was nearly forced into retirement.
“We do not want to lose Bruce,” Pagano said. “He is so valuable to this organization and what he means to this organization and what he’s done. You want the best for Bruce. I want the best for Bruce. I want the best for his family. I want him to achieve and reach any goals that he has for himself throughout his coaching years, things like that. It’s a hard spot. Again, people are going to go after good people and this is just a byproduct of the success that we’ve had here.”
Luck said he wants Arians back, too.
“Selfishly, I hope he doesn’t go anywhere,” Luck said before jokingly reiterating what he said last week — that if teams asked him for a recommendation he would say terrible things about Arians to keep him in Indy.
He’s not the only one at the team complex trying to do that.
“We will just use social media. We will get on the Internet, just like they do around draft time with all the players, all the baggage starts to come out,” Pagano said, drawing laughter. “We won’t do it here. We will just wait until later this evening, the next couple of weeks and start putting all that stuff out if it gets serious.”
The likelihood is that those talks will get serious.
Arians has repeatedly told reporters in Indy that he will only leave for the right fit and that wherever he lands, he still wants to call the plays — even if that means staying in Indy, where the entire offense would like to have him back for Year 2 of the Colts’ reconstruction project.
“I want to be selfish but I can’t,” tight end Dwayne Allen said. “Bruce is such a great guy and what he did for us this year, the job as a head coach and an offensive coordinator was just unbelievable and he deserves an opportunity if he wants to. Hopefully he decides to stay with us because we’d love to have him but if we have to part ways, then so be it.”
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.