Howard Mudd, a former NFL All-Pro player and longtime offensive line coach whose career included two stints with the Seahawks, has died. He was 78.
The Indianapolis Colts announced Mudd’s death Wednesday. No details of his death were provided by the team. Mudd had been in a motorcycle accident in the Seattle area recently.
In a post on CaringBridge.org, Mudd’s family said, “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.”
“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.”
Mudd was offensive line coach for the Seahawks from 1978-82 under Jack Patera (Patera was fired two games into the 1982 season and replaced on an interim basis by Mike McCormack) and then again from 1993-97 under Tom Flores and Dennis Erickson.
During those tenures the Seahawks had offenses that ranked among the best in team history, finishing third in the NFL in yards in both 1978 and 1997.
After his second Seattle tenure Mudd moved on to the Colts, where he coached the offensive line with the Colts from 1998-2009 and rejoined the team as a senior offensive assistant in 2019.
Indianapolis was one of many stops in Mudd’s coaching career that also included time with Philadelphia, Kansas City, Cleveland, San Francisco and the San Diego Chargers.
Mudd began his career at the college level following an eight-year NFL career that included five seasons and part of another with the 49ers, during which time he made three Pro Bowls and was a first team All-Pro pick in 1968 at guard.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who grew up in the Bay Area, first recalled Mudd’s playing days when asked about him Wednesday.
“I grew up watching him play when he was with the Niners,” Carroll said. “… I’ve known him and kind of loved him for a long time from afar, his coaching that he stood for. Really, he’s famous for the way he handled players, the way he handled groups. There’s a lot of young coaches who wanted to be as good as him because of the work that he did.”
During Mudd’s second tenure with the Seahawks he coached eventual Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones during Jones’ rookie season in 1997.
Jones tweeted a tribute to Mudd Wednesday, stating: “My thoughts and prayers are with Howard Mudd’s family. The man believed in my when he didn’t have to. Always spoke so highly of me and I hope I made him proud. I couldn’t share my thoughts in just a tweet, so here is some audio. RIP, Coach.”
Also issuing a tribute to Mudd was former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
“I will be forever grateful for Howard’s tireless efforts and work to protect me as a quarterback and to help our team win so many games,” Manning said in a statement. “He always told me the story about the day I got drafted — Jim Irsay came down to his office and left a note on his desk which said, ‘Howard, your job is to keep No. 18 protected. To keep No. 18 clean.’ Howard always kept that with him and always took that direct order from our owner very seriously.”
Mudd, who played eight NFL seasons overall also including a stint with the Bears, grew up in Midland, Michigan, and played in college at Hillsdale.
“As a football coach, I don’t use this term often, he was remarkable,” Irsay said. “people that know football know that the offensive line is the engine that drives your football team. That is the engine. One of the most important things in determining victories, besides the quarterback, is the battle at the line of scrimmage. Howard was a hall-of-fame chief mechanic. He knew how to get offensive lines to play. That was his love. He was a real artist when it came to coaching that offensive line.
Howard was such an incredible intellectual. Fiercely intellectual. So, so smart. So well read. Howard was just a special man.”
Seattle Times reporter Bob Condotta contributed to this report.