Polian optimistic about Moore, Mudd's returns

Jason Cole
Yahoo! Sports

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian remains optimistic that former assistant coaches Tom Moore and Howard Mudd will return to the team before training camp opens in August.

Moore and Mudd, long-time members of the offensive staff, both left the franchise last month because of federal laws regarding pension plans. However, as reported by multiple publications two weeks ago, the Colts are attempting to hire the veteran staffers back as consultants.

"It's in the hands of the attorney right now," Polian said. "They want to come back, we want them back. He's working on the 'how' part of it, and he hasn't told me there are any bumps in the road. So, when he gets everything done appropriately he'll let me know."

The retirement of Moore and Mudd had little to do with the decision by NFL owners in March to allow teams to opt out of pension and 401K plans for all non-playing staff. Moore and Mudd's situations is related to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, according to a Polian radio interview last month, and has been an issue since February.

"We did anticipate it, and it's just a very complex and difficult and arcane situation," Polian acknowledged. "It has little to do with the decision the league made in March. They are two separate issues. There's only about a two-percent overlap, maybe five-percent overlap. This is a unique issue that is unique to pension law and the fact that they are both 65. That's the issue, and we've been wrestling with it since February."

Moore, 70, became the Colts offensive coordinator in 1998, quarterback Peyton Manning's(notes) rookie year, and has spent the past 32 years as an NFL assistant coach. Mudd, 67 and one of the most highly respected line coaches in the league, also joined the Colts in 1998 and has spent the past 35 years as an NFL assistant.

The likely return of the two assistants has calmed the angst of Manning, who had complained last month about the inconsistencies he perceived among the staff run by new head coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell replaces Tony Dungy, who resigned in February after seven years with the franchise.

Manning said he was extremely comfortable with Moore, who focused on getting plays to Manning quickly so that Manning would have ample time to look over the defense.

"There's no question we have had great stability around here for a long time, and it's something you never take for granted," Manning said. "Tom and I have had that great mesh, and we've worked well together. But change is a part of it, and we've dealt with changes in the past and we're going to do it now. We're going to approach it with a good attitude."

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