FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla—Their first exit wasn't graceful. In fact it was a little unusual.
Problems with pensions, and the threat of losing money, forced Howard Mudd and Tom Moore to retire early , and leave the team on which they'd become an institution.
But thanks to some quick work by Colts management, the coaches returned within a month, and have been along for a second run to a Super Bowl in four seasons.
"It's all I've ever done, all I ever wanted to do, and I've been blessed," said Moore of returning to run the offense another year. "I'm 71, it's my 33rd year in the league, and I've been fortunate."
For Mudd, who is the senior offensive line coach, this will be his final game, since he announced his retirement not long after training camp opened up. Sunday will be his second Super Bowl as a participant, since he only saw the game from the stands as a player.
"The buildup of the first one and now everyone is such a magnificent thing," said Mudd of the Super Bowl. "Then to have that be your last game is pretty cool."
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Is It Dynasty Time?
Getting to the Super Bowl is great, winning it is of course another.
The same applies to owner Jim Irsay when it comes to the number of Lombardi Trophies. Winning one is great, but getting a second is at another level.
"From that aspect, there's no question the importance of what this means to us," said Irsay of Super Bowl XLIV. "The legacy in terms of getting a second one and being able to be a two-time world champion and separate yourself form some other franchises that have won one."
It does help, however, to have already captured a championship and not have the pressure of trying to break through again after multiple failed attempts. John Elway's Broncos teams, for example, lost three Super Bowls in dominating fashion before finally returning to win the game in 1997.
While two trophies is the goal, having one Super Bowl title takes off some pressure.
"It's something for us that means a lot to get the second world championship, no doubt about it," said Irsay. "Having that first one in the bank, that takes some pressure off, I guarantee you that."
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Luck Be A Rookie
One season, one starting spot, one Super Bowl appearance.
Sixteen wins to just two losses, and a touchdown in each playoff game, Austin Collie is making himself look like a veteran, even if he won't say so.
"It's not as easy as everyone thinks," said Collie. "I'm still making mistakes and there are still things I need to learn. I think it will be a couple of years before I get this offense down pat"