Howard Mudd, a former All-Pro offensive lineman who also enjoyed a lengthy career as an NFL assistant coach, has died due to injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident earlier this month. Mudd, who served as an assistant coach on the Colts' 2006 championship team, was 78 years old.
Mudd's family revealed in a statement there are no current plans for a funeral but a celebration of his life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that well-wishers donate to their favorite charity or to the Indianapolis Great Pyrenees Rescue, which was one of Mudd's favorite charities.
"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."
"Rest in peace, Howard Mudd," Colts owner Jim Irsay wrote via Twitter Wednesday afternoon. "Howard was a GREAT player during a shortened career, and then became one of the game's all-time greatest offensive line coaches. He contributed to many different teams over 47 years in the league -- but he will always be a Colt."
Colts coach Frank Reich spoke about Mudd during his media availability earlier in the day. Mudd, who hadn't coached since the 2012 season, was part of Reich's staff during the 2019 season. Reich shared a story about Mudd when he initially broke into coaching with the Colts in the late 2000s.
"Working with Peyton (Manning), I would have to go into Howard's office all the time to talk to about the running game and things relevant to the quarterback," Reich said, via Kevin Bowen of 1070 The Fan. "I remember going into his office one time and he had pushed me around one too many times verbally, I finally just lashed back out on him. It was a good lashing for me. You know me, so you can imagine that for me to get this worked up and to strike back verbally was a rare instance. I let him have it. After I finished, he just starting laughing and said, 'I love that. That's what I love to see.' He was just an old ball coach. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and (his wife) Shirley. Just have a lot of love and respect for Howard Mudd."
A ninth-round pick in the 1964 draft, Mudd spent the bulk of his career in San Francisco, where he blossomed into a three-time Pro Bowler when earning All-Pro recognition in 1968. Mudd was also tabbed as a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1960s. Mudd's NFL coaching career began when he was named the Chargers' offensive line coach in 1974, a position he held through the 1976 season. Mudd later held the same position in San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Philadelphia.
Mudd's impact on the Colts' success during the 2000s is invaluable. During Mudd's dozen years as the team's offensive line coach, Manning was one of the league's least sacked quarterbacks. The success of the Colts' offensive line paved the way for Manning, receiver Marvin Harrison and running back Edgerrin James to carve out Hall of Fame careers. Their play also helped the Colts capture their first Super Bowl win since moving from Baltimore to Indianapolis.