Bruce Arians Drank Paint as a Kid To Replace the Milk He Wasn’t Allowed To Have

Bruce Arians has had a ton of success as a coach in the NFL. His time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Pittsburgh Steelers has proven how knowledgeable he is about the game of football. However, as a kid, he might not have been the brightest. In fact, Arians couldn’t drink milk, so, instead he drank paint not once, but twice.

Bruce Arians coached in the NFL for years before becoming a head coach

Bruce Arians has essentially been a life-long football coach. After spending time at Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, and Alabama, Arians became the head coach of the Temple Owls in 1983.

Temple only had two winning seasons with Arians, though, so he ultimately coached there for six seasons before becoming the running backs coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1989. After spending four seasons with the Chiefs, Arians then worked for Mississippi State, the New Orleans Saints, and Alabama again. However, finally, in 1998, Arians moved to the NFL permanently. He ultimately became the quarterbacks coach for the Indianapolis Colts, and was there during Peyton Manning’s first three seasons in the league.

His work in Indy then helped him became the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2001. Arians was then actually a part of the Browns team that went to the playoffs in 2002, their last trip to the postseason until 2020.

Cleveland’s 5-11 season in 2003, though, led to Arians becoming the wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2004 through 2006 before becoming Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator in 2007.

The Steelers then had one of the best offenses in the league with Arians. Pittsburgh ranked No. 9 in points per game in 2007, which helped them get to the playoffs. However, in 2008, Arians helped the Steelers win the Super Bowl, as they ended up defeating the Arizona Cardinals in the game.

Pittsburgh then had a top 12 offense scoring-wise in 2009 and 2010, and even reached the Super Bowl again during the 2010 season. In 2012, though, Arians became the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive coordinator, which is where he ended up getting NFL head coaching experience.

He has been a successful head coach with the Colts, Cardinals, and Buccaneers

Bruce Arians has been a pretty successful coach with the Cardinals and Buccaneers. However, before his coaching days, he drank paint as a kid.
Head coach Bruce Arians of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reacts during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 06, 2019. | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts were a hot, up-and-coming team in 2012. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck ultimately led them to an 11-5 record and a trip to the playoffs that year. However, head coach Chuck Pagano battled leukemia that season, which led to him missing some games. Arians ultimately became the interim coach during those games and went 9-3 as the man in charge.

His success with Indy helped him become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. The Cardinals went 10-6 in his first season before going 11-5 in 2014 and reaching the playoffs. 

In 2015, though, the Cardinals were one of the best teams in the league. They went 13-3 behind a stellar year from Carson Palmer, and they ended up reaching the NFC Championship Game.

However, after that season, the Cardinals then went 7-8-1 and 8-8, and Arians then retired after 2017. He then didn’t coach in 2018 but became the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019.

Tampa went 7-9 with Arians in 2019, but then became one of the best teams in the NFL in 2020. The Buccaneers went 11-5 with Tom Brady and other stars and reached the playoffs.

Bruce Arians drank paint as a kid because he couldn’t drink milk


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Arians is lactose intolerant, and, as a kid, he wanted to try the dairy that he couldn’t have. However, what he ultimately drank wasn’t dairy.

“I was two or three, allergic to milk, my brother always got a big glass of milk, my older brother,” Arians said on SportsCenter in 2017. “Dad would tell him, ‘Make sure you finish that milk, so you get big and strong.’ I’m like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ So, they’re painting the kitchen one time, and I see that paint; took a big gulp. [Went] straight to the hospital, [got my] stomach pumped.”

Well, that sounds horrible. Arians didn’t just do this once, though, but he drank paint twice.

“Couldn’t have ice cream; the next time was green paint,” Arians said. “I said, ‘That looks like that green ice cream mom had.’ Gulp, back to the hospital.”

Well, it appears that Bruce Arians has overcome all odds in his life. He went from drinking poison twice to becoming one of the top coaches in the NFL. Hopefully, he has learned his lesson by now, though.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference