Arians walks away as 'Black Monday' hits NFL
Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians retired as the NFL's 'Black Monday' claimed the jobs of several of his counterparts.
Arians, twice the NFL's coach of the year during his career with the Cardinals and the Indianapolis Colts, announced his departure at a tearful press conference the day after a season-ending 26-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
"The tears you see are really tears of joy, peace," Arians said. "I'll miss the players. I'll miss coming out of the locker room, hearing the national anthem, because it still gets me."
Earlier, the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears parted company with Jim Caldwell and John Fox respectively after missing out on the play-offs.
Two other coaches did not even make it to the New Year, with Chuck Pagano fired by the Colts after they beat the Houston Texans to close out a 4-12 season and Jack Del Rio jettisoned by the Oakland Raiders.
Del Rio announced his own exit at his post-match press conference after his team were hammered 30-10 by the Los Angeles Chargers to conclude a season which began with Super Bowl aspirations but ended outside the play-offs with a 6-10 record.
With Ben McAdoo sacked during the season by the New York Giants, six teams are looking for new coaches.
The Cincinnati Bengals could be another, with the long-serving Marvin Lewis out of contract, but Hue Jackson is expected to remain with Cleveland despite their 0-16 season and the Denver Broncos have assured Vance Joseph his job is safe.
Gruden seems almost certain to return to the Oakland job he occupied between 1998 and 2001. Gruden won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2002 season, but has not coached since 2008 after moving into commentary.
On the field, Buffalo Bills ended the longest play-off drought in North American major team sports when they qualified for the play-offs.
The Bills gave themselves a chance with a 22-16 win over the Miami Dolphins but had to rely on the Baltimore Ravens losing to the Bengals. That happened when Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton connected on fourth down with a 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd to earn a 31-27 win at the death and send Buffalo's players into delirium.
The Bills play the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday before the Carolina Panthers take on the New Orleans Saints.
On Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs face the Tennessee Titans while last year's Super Bowl runners-up the Atlanta Falcons meet this year's surprise package, the LA Rams.