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Former Colts O-line coach Howard Mudd dies after July motorcycle crash

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Howard Mudd, a former offensive line coach of the Indianapolis Colts, died Wednesday morning after suffering injuries in a July 29 motorcycle accident, according to his family.

Mudd was a senior offensive assistant coach for the Colts before stepping down in fall 2019. Previously, Mudd was the offensive line coach for the Colts when Peyton Manning led Indianapolis to a 29-17 victory over the Bears in Super XLI in 2007.

He had been in intensive care in a Seattle facility since the crash.

His family posted an announcement Wednesday afternoon on the website Caring Bridge said:

“We want to share that yesterday we (as a family) made the decision to focus care on providing Howard the most comfort. Right after the accident he fought so hard against all odds to communicate to us that he loves us and that he knows we love him. Yesterday, it became clear that he was ready and that we needed to surround him with love and fight for his right to comfort and peace.

“This morning he was surrounded in the room by his sons (Darren and Adam) who held his arms and prayed over him as he passed away.

“Howard deeply loved and enjoyed his many friends and family. Please honor Howard today and every day by sharing a belly laugh with a loved one, or telling a stupid joke, or calling up a friend to tell them you are thinking of them.

“Please know that we appreciate all the support & love & prayers for our family. He was loved by so many. We are missing a link in our family & at this time trying to support one another.

“No funeral planned. However, a celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

“In lieu of flowers, please donate to your favorite charity or Howard’s favorite : Indianapolis Great Pyrenees Rescue, Indianapolis, In.”

The Colts said in a news release, “Mudd had over 40 years of NFL experience as a coach (1974-2009, 2011-12, 2019) and player (1964-71). He served as the Colts’ offensive line coach for 12 seasons (1998-2009) and re-joined the team as senior offensive assistant in 2019. Mudd was a member of the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI championship team. He served as offensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles (2011-12), Kansas City Chiefs (1989-92), Cleveland Browns (1983-88), Seattle Seahawks (1978-82, 1993-97), San Francisco 49ers (1977) and San Diego Chargers (1974-1976). Mudd began his coaching career as the offensive line coach at the University of California and served two years on the staff (1972-73).”

“Mudd entered coaching after an eight-year NFL playing career with the Chicago Bears (1969-71) and San Francisco 49ers (1964-69). As a player, he was a three-time Pro Bowl starter (1966-68) and was named First Team All-Pro in 1968. Originally selected by the 49ers in the ninth round (113th overall) of the 1964 NFL Draft, he was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s and was a member of the 49ers’ All-Golden Era Team (1946-70),” the release also said.


“It’s a very, very tough one for Colts Nation. I’ve been around a lot of coaches for 50 years in this league, some of them are like fathers and uncles and brothers, and as you get older they’re like sons. Howard was very special to me in three categories: as a coach, as a man and as a great friend. It’s a real difficult day for Colts fans, because everyone knows how much Howard meant to the Horseshoe, and how much he was loved.

“As a football coach, I don’t use this term often, he was remarkable. People that know football know that the offensive line is the engine that drives your football team. That is the engine. One of the most important things in determining victories, besides the quarterback, is the battle at the line of scrimmage. Howard was a hall-of-fame chief mechanic. He knew how to get offensive lines to play. That was his love. He was a real artist when it came to coaching that offensive line.

“Howard was such an incredible intellectual. Fiercely intellectual. So, so smart. So well read. Howard was just a special man.”

Jim Irsay, Colts owner and chief executive officer

“I’m extremely saddened to hear the news of Howard Mudd’s passing. I will be forever grateful for Howard’s tireless efforts and work to protect me as a quarterback and to help our team win so many games. He always told me the story about the day I got drafted – Jim Irsay came down to his office and left a note on his desk which said, ‘Howard, your job is to keep No. 18 protected. To keep No. 18 clean.’ Howard always kept that with him and always took that direct order from our owner very seriously. In every game plan meeting and every practice I know he was always thinking about how to protect me as a quarterback in the pocket with different blocking schemes and ways to run the ball. That was always on his mind and he kept that thought process with him throughout his whole career. As a quarterback, I can’t tell you how much that meant to me knowing that was on his mind and that was one of his top priorities.

“Obviously, Howard was a great player in the NFL. He was a legendary coach. In my opinion, Howard Mudd was the best offensive line coach in NFL history. I would put him on that pedestal any day of the week. I know all the guys that played for him would feel the same way and a lot of the guys that coached with him would feel the same. He will be missed by many. I know so many like me are grateful to have played for him.

“One of the all-time storytellers. Howard, Jeff Saturday and I had a lot of healthy arguments. If you had a point to make and you believed in it you had to stick with it because Howard was going to make you prove your point and he was going to counter you and fight you and argue with you. But we were all trying to accomplish the same goal – trying to figure out the best way to block this blitz or the best way to game plan versus this particular defense. We had a lot of healthy discussions – Tarik Glenn, Jeff Saturday, Ryan Diem and I. Howard was one loyal person and loved his o-linemen and loved the guys. He loved that meeting room and all the different places that he coached. We had a special group there with the Colts. It was an honor to have known Howard Mudd. It was an honor to have played for him. I was proud to be his friend and proud to be a quarterback that he was trying to protect all the time. I will be forever grateful. Shirley and their entire family are in my thoughts and prayers. May Howard Mudd rest in peace.”

Peyton Manning, former Colts quarterback

“I’m saddened to hear of Howard’s passing and my condolences go out to his wife, Shirley, and his family. I’m privileged to have had the chance to work with Howard and I learned a tremendous amount from him in the five seasons we coached together in Indianapolis. I consider Howard one of the greatest offensive line coaches in football and I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for him.”

Frank Reich, Colts head coach

“Howard made a lasting impact not only with the Colts organization, but the NFL in general. His contributions to this game as both a player and coach are remarkable and span several decades. Howard coached Colts offensive lines that routinely ranked at the top of the league and were a significant reason for the team’s sustained success. I’m thankful I had the chance to get to know Howard who is not only one of the game’s greatest coaches, but an even better man. My thoughts and prayers are with Shirley and his family.”

Chris Ballard, Colts general manager