Well-Respected Howard Mudd Passes Away

Ed Kracz

There’s a story to be told about Howard Mudd in many different cities across the NFL landscape, from San Francisco, where Mudd was a three-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman and one-time All-Pro performer, to Chicago, carving a playing career that led to him being named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s.

From there, Mudd became a standout offensive line coach, with more stories that could be told from Seattle to Indianapolis to Kanas City to Cleveland and other spots during his coaching stops.

Those stories will be told in the days and weeks ahead after the well-respected player and coach died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident about two weeks ago. He was 78.

One of Mudd’s final stops was Philadelphia.

He was lured out of retirement in 2011 by then-coach Andy Reid Reid to take the job as his offensive line coach. Mudd replaced Juan Castillo, who Reid had inexplicably elevated to defensive coordinator whose only experience on that side of the ball came a dozen years earlier and on the high school level.

Mudd’s knees were so bad he would often jet around practice in a golf cart during his two years as the Eagles’ offensive line coach.

It didn’t stop him from pursuing his passion, riding motorcycles with his friend Jim Washburn, who was the Eagles defensive line coach for those same two years Mudd was in Philadelphia. The two traveled on their bikes around the country in the offseason.

Mudd came to the Eagles just a handful of months before the organization drafted guard Danny Watkins with the 23rd overall pick.

The veteran O-line coach was tasked with molding Watkins into a professional player. It proved to be too tall of a task, not because of Mudd, but Watkins never showed any interest or enthusiasm for a game he had only begun to play at the age of 22.

Watkins was enrolled at Butte College in California, studying fire sciences in order to become a firefighter after a year as a junior firefighter, when the school’s football coach talked him into coming out for the football team.

Watkins then went to Baylor, but his passion wasn't football, instead, it burned to be a firefighter.

Still, Mudd accepted the blame for not turning Watkins into what the Eagles had hoped he would be.

“I coached many players over many years, and not reaching Danny Watkins was my biggest failure,” Mudd told Sports Illustrated MMQB a while ago. “He had so much talent, so much potential, and I failed.”

In reality, the issue was Watkins.

In Mudd’s first season in Philadelphia, the Eagles’ offensive line allowed 17 fewer sacks than they had the previous season and helped LeSean McCoy lead the NFL in touchdowns.

Mudd retired again at the end of the 2012 season, which was when Reid was fired, and Chip Kelly hired in 2013.

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