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NFL Pro Bowler and longtime Colts assistant Howard Mudd, 78, dies following a motorcycle accident

Former NFL player and longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd has passed away at 78 on Wednesday following a late July motorcycle accident.

Since the accident, Mudd had been hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He sustained pelvic and spinal injuries in the crash.

Mudd is survived by his wife Shirley and their sons Darren and Adam. The family announced the news through a friend on the CaringBridge website Wednesday afternoon.

‘We want to share that yesterday we (as a family) made the decision to focus care on providing Howard the most comfort,’ the statement began. 

‘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.’

The family provided regular updates following the accident.

In a message posted Saturday night on Mudd’s page on the CaringBridge website, a family friend relayed a note from Shirley, who addressed treatment of the pelvic and spinal injuries he suffered in the accident.

‘Ortho surgery on pelvis [external fixator] went smooth,’ Shirley Mudd said. ‘Tried to turn him over & do spine surgery and was unable to do so due to padding pushing in abdomen & reducing airflow & blood pressure.’

‘Docs will regroup & try to determine how best to proceed,’ she continued. ‘He’s awake off and on.’

However, in the days that followed, the Mudd family was able to relay some positive signs. After initially not being responsive, Mudd vocally greeted Shirley one morning.

‘This was a great feeling!!’ family friend Mark Bewsey wrote on CaringBridge. ‘As we all know, Howard is quite a character and so expressive with his face and eyes.’

Mudd played on the offensive line with the San Francisco 49ers (1964-69) and Chicago Bears (1969-70) before retiring in 1971. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade Team for the 1960s.

He served as the offensive line coach for seven NFL teams but is best known as the architect of the line that protected Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts, where he coached from 1998 to 2009. He was an adviser to the Colts in the 2019 preseason.

‘Rest in peace, Howard Mudd,’ Colts owner Jim Irsay wrote on Twitter. ‘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.’

‘Howard Mudd was never a head coach in his brilliant 48-year career but is an example of why we should consider assistants for the @ProFootballHOF,’ wrote former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt on Twitter. ‘He was one hell of player, too. Rest easy, my friend. Condolences to the entire Mudd family.’

‘RIP coach Howard Mudd,’ tweeted Georgia Tech offensive line coach Brent Key. ‘One of the best to ever coach the Offensive Line. I’ve learned so much from the way he coached our position. Prayers with his family.’

‘Colts fans slept well knowing Peyton Manning was protected by an offensive line coached by Howard Mudd,’ freelancer journalist Heather Lloyd wrote on Twitter. ‘Now it’s his turn. Rest well, Coach. Your work here is done. You’ll never be forgotten.’

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