By Tom James, CNHI News Service
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Howard Mudd knows that he only has a few days left in a storied National Football League coaching career.
Mudd announced his retirement during training camp and he really means it this time. The former NFL offensive guard — widely considered as one of the best offensive line coaches in the league — retired briefly last summer over concerns about the NFL’s new pension plan.
He came back to the Indianapolis Colts, as did longtime offensive coordinator Tom Moore. They were given new titles — senior offensive line coach and senior offensive coordinator. But their roles with the team remained the same.
Moore has said that he will stay as long as the Colts want him around. That’s a given. Mudd, though, is ready to move on and spend some quality time with his wife and family.
To be able to end his coaching career in the Super Bowl is a thrill. To be able to go out with a second Super Bowl ring would be so much sweeter.
“Just the Super Bowl in itself is such a magnificent thing. I wasn’t a participant (as a player). I sat in the stands and watched the first Super Bowl. It was unbelievable. I had gone to the Pro Bowl, so they had all the Pro Bowl players all sitting at the 50-yard line in the first one,” he recalled Tuesday.
“I looked down there and went, “..., look at all these people I am sitting with.” The magnitude of that part was there and then the Super Bowl. The buildup of the first one and now everyone is such a magnificent thing. Then to have that be your last game is pretty cool.”
So is spending his final season as an NFL assistant working under Jim Caldwell. The two were friends before Caldwell was promoted to head coach. Now that relationship is even stronger.
“After we played the (New York) Jets [in the AFC championship game], I was really happy because we were going to the Super Bowl. I was real happy for a lot of things. But I was happiest for Jim Caldwell. He had legendary things to follow,” Mudd said.
“Tony (Dungy) was iconic. There was a lot of things that went into that. And he did it his way. Why I was so proud to be part (of this year’s success) is that I thought that Jim did it his way. He didn’t try to be Tony Dungy. He tried to be Jim Caldwell. The only similarity between what Jim did and what Tony did was we did the same (practice) schedule. You could count on it. I could tell you on Wednesday next year when they start out, I know exactly where you go to meet. So the schedule is exactly the same. And Tony didn’t invent that. He got it from (former Minnesota Vikings coach) Dennis (Green) and Dennis got it from Bill Walsh. It was a well thought out system.”
He went on.
“To say that (Caldwell) didn’t borrow things from Tony, I’m sure he did. But it didn’t sound like Tony Dungy talking to the team. Ever. He did it Jim Caldwell’s way. Tony’s boundaries were there. Jim defined the boundaries, probably they were more clear. Jim probably had a more defined outline about certain things. Very defined.”