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Friday, August 7, 2009
Colts' coaches happy to be back

Associated Press

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Howard Mudd's comeback with Indianapolis will last one season.

Tom Moore isn't sure how long he'll keep coaching, but he's content to stay with the Colts.

The two longtime assistant coaches spoke Friday for the first time since abandoning their retirement plans and rejoining the Colts staff. Mudd left little doubt about his future plans.

"This is my last trip around the world. I just want to enjoy it," he said. "I told my wife that. I framed her face and said, 'Shirley, this is it.'"

Mudd is the only coach to lead the Colts offensive line since Peyton Manning was taken with the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NFL draft. Moore is the only offensive coordinator during the Manning era, too.

And it was the potential breakup of the three M's -- Manning, Moore and Mudd -- that grabbed attention in May, June and July.

Moore and Mudd, fearing they would lose money after owners voted to change the league's pension plan, filed retirement papers in May. Neither coach elaborated on their reasons Friday, calling it a personal and private matter but their decisions created a summertime saga.

Team owner Jim Irsay said he would bring the two longtime assistants back as consultants and offered to pay them salaries comparable to what they made as assistants. Although the Colts made no official announcements, team president Bill Polian told a local radio station that two other assistants, Clyde Christensen and Pete Metzelaars, would replace Moore and Mudd.

That's how the Colts started mini-camp even though Moore sensed he would be back in the fall.

"I'm always an eternal optimist," Moore said. "I was hoping."

Manning wanted more than hope. In late May, the frustrated quarterback complained that everyone in the Colts complex was not on the same page. Ten days later, after talking to team officials, Manning said he was satisfied with the answers he received.

But until last week, there was still uncertainty about exactly what roles Moore and Mudd would have this season.

Turns out, they'll be doing the same things they've done for the past 11 years albeit with new titles -- senior offensive coordinator and senior offensive line coach.

"It's great for a lot of reasons," Moore said. "My greatest memories in football are with this team. I remember coming here 12 years ago and to see this whole thing grow into what it's become has been incredible."

That's saying a lot given Moore's experiences.

He coached Tony Dungy in college. He coached Lynn Swann and John Stallworth in Pittsburgh, created the offense that turned Barry Sanders and Herman Moore into stars with Detroit and the one that made Manning a three-time league MVP and Marvin Harrison the league's No. 2 all-time receiver.

Now 71, Moore owns three Super Bowl rings, one with Manning and the Colts, and isn't sure he's ready to walk away yet.

"I don't how long I'll do this, but someone will probably have to tell me and that's OK," he said. "You want to make sure you can be an integral part of it. I don't ever want to be one of those hanger-ons."

Like Moore, Mudd has had a remarkable career.

The 67-year-old Mudd has spent the last 35 years coaching in the NFL, with stops in San Diego, San Francisco, twice in Seattle, Cleveland and Kansas City before coming to Indy in 1998.

In 1985, it was his line that paved the way for Cleveland to become only the third team in league history to have two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season, Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack. And while the Colts have consistently produced 1,000-yard runners and ranked near the top of the league for fewest sacks allowed, Mudd believes he has unfinished business in Indy.

"We've got to play better," he said. "We're not used to having mediocre performances like last year. Until we play and perform like we used to perform, we're not going to go any place and we know that. We've got to get some work done."

On Friday, Mudd acknowledged he was prepared to leave football and return to his home in Seattle where he could ride his motorcycle and enjoy the mountains.

But those plans will be put on hold for one more year.

"I love it," he said. "You know, someone must have built me to coach because that's what I love doing. But this is it."