Long-time Colts o-line coach Howard Mudd passes away at 78

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Offensive line coach Howard Mudd of the Indianapolis Colts looks on while facing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 25, 2004 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – For the second time in three months, the Indianapolis Colts and the NFL are mourning the loss of a long-time assistant coach.

Howard Mudd, 78 and part of the NFL for more than five decades, passed away Wednesday morning at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center from complications from injuries sustained in a July 29 motorcycle accident.

In a post on Caring Bridge, his family said Mudd was surrounded by 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,’’ the post continued. “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.’’

Three months ago, another noted Colts’ assistant – defensive line coach John Teerlinck, 69 – passed away.

Tributes for Mudd were quick to hit social media.

“Rest in peace, Howard Mudd,’’ Colts owner Jim Irsay posted on Twitter. “Howard was a GREAT player during a shortened career and then became of the game’s all-time greatest offensive line coaches. He contributed to many different teams over 47 years in our league – but he will always be a Colt.’’

Mudd’s relationship with the Colts spanned 11 seasons as their offensive line coach (1998-2009) and a brief stint in 2019 as a senior assistant on Frank Reich’s staff.

“Having Howard back has been even better than I thought it would be,’’ Reich said after bringing Mudd back to Indy. “This guy is incredible. He is a living legend, one of the best offensive line coaches ever.’’

Mudd had retired in 2012 after two seasons as offensive line coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, but always dabbled in lending a voice as an advisor with several teams.

While away from football, he devoted his energy to his family – he described himself as a “busy grandpa’’ – and frequent motorcycle excursions.

“I’d be in the house a little bit and Shirley would say, ‘Isn’t there a ride or something you need to take?’’’ Mudd said with a laugh. “Or I’d babysit a grandson.

“That’s what grandpa’s do.’’

Then, an opportunity to reunite with the Colts surfaced in February 2019 when Reich was searching for a new offensive line coach. He was vetting one of Mudd’s friends from Seattle – Chris Strausser – and decided to bring in both.

“I kind of thought I was done,’’ Mudd said at the time. “But I enjoy coaching. I do. I like teaching. I have experience and I like the response that students have.

“That’s my passion.’’

Even though Mudd and Shirley, resided in Seattle, he always considered Indy a second home.

“I really identify with Indy,’’ he said. “I can get pretty sentimental about the Heartland of the United States and all that stuff.’’

Mudd is considered one of the premier offensive line coaches in NFL history, but he also was a decorated player. He was a ninth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 1964 who would be named to here Pro Bowls, two All-Pro teams and the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade team.

Mudd’s NFL coaching career began in 1972 with the San Diego Chargers. He would leave his mark with the Colts, Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and Philadelphia Eagles.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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