Howard Mudd, who spent 11-plus seasons as a legendary offensive line coach with the Indianapolis Colts, passed away today due to injuries suffered in a tragic motorcycle accident.
He was 78 years old.
"Rest in peace, Howard Mudd," Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted today. "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 our league---but he will always be a Colt."
Mudd, a Midland, Mich., native, was an All-American offensive lineman at tiny Hillsdale College, and in 1964 defied the odds when he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the ninth round of the NFL Draft.
A member of the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team, Mudd would be named All-Pro two times and selected to three Pro Bowls over the course of his playing career with the 49ers (1964-69) and the Chicago Bears (1969-70).
After an eight-year playing career cut short by a knee injury, Mudd entered the coaching ranks as an offensive line coach at the University of California in 1972, spending two years at the school. He got hired onto the staff of the San Diego Chargers in 1974, sparking a decades-long career as one of the greatest offensive line coaches in NFL history.
Mudd was on the staff of the Chargers (1974-76), 49ers (1977), Seattle Seahawks (1978-82; 1993-97), Cleveland Browns (1983-88), Kansas City Chiefs (1989-92) and Eagles (2011-12), but he's perhaps best known for his work with the Colts' offensive line from 1998 through 2009.
During that span, Mudd was a member of the Colts' Super Bowl XLI championship team, and he played a huge role in ensuring the protection of future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, who was one of the least-sacked quarterbacks in the league during Mudd's tenure as Indy's offensive line coach.
Mudd retired from the NFL after spending the 2012 season as an assistant on the Eagles' staff, but last year he came back to the Colts for a seven-month stint as a senior offensive assistant coach, helping his friend and then-first-year offensive line coach Chris Strausser get the line ready for the 2019 season.
Mudd, an avid motorcyclist, was critically injured in a crash near his Seattle home on July 29, and after a hard fight, passed away this morning, according to his family.
"We want to share that yesterday we (as a family) made the decision to focus care on providing Howard the most comfort," the Mudd family wrote in a post on his CaringBridge.org page. "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."
According to Mudd's family, while there is no funeral planned, a celebration of life service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking those interested in donating to their favorite cause or Mudd's favorite charity: the Indianapolis Great Pyrenees Rescue.
"Howard deeply loved and enjoyed his many friends and family," his family wrote. "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."