A highly respected member of the NFL community whose career in the league spanned nearly a half-century has died from his injuries suffered in a recent motorcycle crash.
Howard Mudd, a two-time All-Pro as an offensive guard who later enjoyed a long career as a line coach, died at age 78 on Wednesday, his family announced.
“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.”
Mudd was hospitalized in Seattle after he was injured in the crash in late July.
A Michigan native, Mudd starred at tiny Hillsdale College before going on to establish himself as an All-Pro in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears. His playing career was cut short after seven seasons by a knee injury, and his legendary pro coaching career began in 1974 with the San Diego Chargers.
Mudd was named to the league's All-Decade team for the 1960s.
He retired from the Colts in 2009, three years after winning Super Bowl XLI, but returned to the sidelines for a two-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles beginning in 2011. He also had coaching stints with the Seahawks, Chiefs and Browns.
Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay said Mudd "will always be a Colt."
Legendary NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, who was protected by Mudd-coached offensive lines for the bulk of his career while playing for the Colts, said Mudd was the best offensive line coach "in NFL history."
Former Colts star wide receiver Reggie Wayne said Mudd was "a huge part of my journey."
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said "there's a lot of young coaches who wanted to be as good as him, because of the work he did."