Longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd, whose NFL career spanned nearly 50 years, died at the age of 78 following a motorcycle accident that took place on July 29th, his family announced on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Mike Wells.
Mudd spent two weeks in ICU in a Seattle hospital with several injuries, including a fractured spine and pelvis suffered in the accident.
Mudd’s NFL career began when he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the ninth round of the 1964 NFL Draft, where he played up until 1969, and spent the final two years of his career with the Chicago Bears.
Mudd was named to the Pro Bowl three times, two All-Pro teams and the 1960s All-Decade team.
Mudd’s coaching career began at the University of California in 1972 where he served as their offensive line coach. From there he transitioned to the NFL where he coached with the Indianapolis Colts (twice), San Diego Chargers, 49ers, Seattle Seahawks (twice), Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Cheifs, and Philadelphia Eagles.
Mudd saw his most success coaching the Colts offensive line from 1998-2009 where he was tasked with helping protect franchise signal caller Peyton Manning.
“Jim Irsay came down to [Mudd’s] office and left a note on his desk which said, ‘Howard, your job is to keep No. 18 protected. To keep No. 18 clean.'” Manning said in a statement released by the team. “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.”
Mudd was briefly with the Colts as a senior assistant on head coach Frank Reich’s staff during the 2019 season.
“I got my coaching break here with the Colts,” Reich said Wednesday. “I was the offensive quality control [coach] and then I was the quarterback coach. So working with Peyton, I would have to go into Howard’s office all the time to talk about the run game and things relevant to the quarterback. I remember going into his office one time and he had pushed me around one too many times verbally, I just finally lashed back out on him. … I let him have it. After I was finished, he just started laughing and he 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 Shirley [Mudd].”
Colts owner issued the following statement on his official Twitter page:
“Rest in peace, Howard Mudd. 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.”