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Colts owner Irsay says two retired coaches should return in August

INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts owner Jim Irsay finally has all those answers about the coaching staff -- and perhaps a sense of continuity as well.

The team's 2009 coaching staff will include the recently retired Tom Moore and Howard Mudd. Irsay's new coach, Jim Caldwell, will determine what roles the longtime assistants play. And Irsay's three-time MVP quarterback, Peyton Manning, seems satisfied with the resolution.

After months of confusion, Irsay couldn't think of a better way to wrap up offseason workouts this week.

"Peyton doesn't like uncertainty -- no one does," Irsay said. "But sometimes that's all you can communicate. I've got no problems with people being feisty to win. If someone wants to stir the pot, let them stir the pot."

Irsay's comments come two weeks after Manning did just that, igniting a mild controversy that drew national attention.

On May 26, Manning expressed frustration with the uncertainty surrounding the Colts' coaching staff. He contended there was a lack of communication between himself and the front office and that everyone in the building wasn't on the same page.

Then, after meeting later with Caldwell and team president Bill Polian, Manning changed his tone. He said last week that he had a good grasp of what to expect this season.

On Tuesday, Irsay sided with his quarterback, saying he understood why Manning took his complaints public.

"I say good because it means people care," Irsay said. "When it's done, it's time for him to focus on being an NFL quarterback. But I think the bottom line is that whenever you get some feisty comments like that, it's good because it means they're hungry, they want to win."

Finding answers has taken Irsay and the Colts through a complex maze.

Moore and Mudd, the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for Manning's entire NFL career, suddenly announced their retirements in early May after the NFL changed its pension plan. Both coaches feared they would lose money if they didn't retire under the old rules, and they still were worried after Irsay promised not to short-change them.

So Irsay spent the past month convincing the assistants to come back while team officials attempted to find out when they could legally return.

NFL Coaches Association executive director Larry Kennan initially said Moore and Mudd would have to sit out for six months after retirement papers were filed. That would have kept the assistants off the field until November. But the Colts now believe Kennan was wrong and that Moore and Mudd will be back when training camp opens in August.

"It's been extremely difficult to communicate because there have been so many moving variables," Irsay said. "But we're ready to go, and they want (to win) bad."

Irsay wouldn't say how much the two coaches will be paid, but he said it was comparable to what they made as assistants.

Still, Polian had recently said that if Moore and Mudd weren't back with the Colts, assistant head coach Clyde Christensen would call plays and assistant offensive line coach Pete Metzelaars would replace Mudd. Christensen and Metzelaars performed those duties during minicamp and offseason workouts, but the team never made an official announcement.

Irsay said Tuesday that he expects Moore and Mudd to resume their old jobs, although Caldwell will make the final call.

"It doesn't matter what I envision -- it's Jim's team," Irsay said. "He's talked it through with Tom and Howard and Clyde and Pete. I said 'Jim, what do you want' and he said he wanted them back. He's the decider."

If the plan sticks, it could finally mark the end to a tumultuous offseason in Indy.

Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy retired in January. Caldwell, who was promoted, replaced the Colts' defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator in early February, and the team released Marvin Harrison, the franchise's career receiving leader, in a cost-cutting move in late February.

Then came the retirements of Moore and Mudd and Manning's complaints.

The resolution couldn't come soon enough for Irsay, who just wants things to return to normal.

"Peyton is a fiery guy, and he wants to win as much as I do. We all do," Irsay said. "You're going to get guys like that because everyone wants to win so bad. But we are all on the same page now, and he, like everyone else, has been frustrated with this roller-coaster. I don't think a lot is going to change now, even if this never had happened."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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