More info in the NFL pension plan and the Colts coaching changes

Once again, the media has reported something rather important involving the Colts. The Colts have gone on record and confirmed those reports. And, once again, absolutely NOTHING about these reports has been posted on Colts.com.

Howard Mudd and Tom Moore have retired. We know this. It's confirmed. It's pretty significant. These men are legends. Yet, nothing has been posted on Colts.com mentioning their retirement. In addition, Bill Polian himself went on the radio and confirmed that Clyde Christensen has been promoted to replace Tom Moore while Pete Metzelaars was also promoted to replace Howard Mudd. Yet, despite THE PRESIDENT OF THE TEAM confirming the promotions, there is absolutely nothing on Colts.com posted about it.

No articles about Mudd and Moore. No official announcements from the team. No nothing.

They just don't care about their website, folks. They just don't care. I mean seriously, why even maintain the site if you are going to be this lazy about posting content, especially content this important?

Anyway, my daily rant and the ineptness of the Colts on the web aside, our old friend Peter King decided to stop talking about taking a dump in an airport bathroom and actually pen a pretty good, well-informed article. Tip to AussieColtsFan. In the article, Peter King discusses the reasons why Howard Mudd and Tom Moore retired, and why it has more to do with their past employers and not the Colts:

Employees who retire and take their pension can take it in one of three ways. One is as a lump sum, which is most desirable because then retirees can take the entire pension and invest the benefits as they see fit. The benefits belong to them and their heirs as long as the money lasts. Two is as an annuity, with annual payouts until the retiree dies. Three is as an annuity with annual payouts until the retiree and his spouse both die.

Obviously, the older a coach is when he retires, the less his life expectancy is. In the cases of Moore and Mudd, both of whom have had recent health concerns, they obviously wanted a lump-sum payment. But neither club or league lawyers could assure them that they'd be able to take a lump-sum payment if they retired beyond this year. Not because of what the Colts would do with their pension plan. ("The Colts will fund our plan fully,'' said Polian.) But because of what their previous employers would do. Mudd worked previously with San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland and Kansas City. Moore worked for Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Detroit and New Orleans.

If any of those teams funded their pension plan at less than 80 percent of the minimum standard for pension plans, Moore and Mudd risked not being able to take their retirement pensions in a lump sum. San Francisco and New Orleans are likely to opt out of the league pension plan; Minnesota might. So even though the Colts are likely to fund, as Polian says, neither the Colts nor advisers to Moore and Mudd could guarantee that they'd be able to take the lump-sum payment.

So, the issue is with the former teams Mudd and Moore worked for, but it seems to be less about them getting out of the plan than knowing what would happen if they did. King (who quotes Polian) explains:

"This has been going on since February,'' said Polian. "And the fact is we just couldn't answer whether they'd be able to take the lump-sum or whether they'd have to take the pro-rata portion of the pension in an annuity. We think they'd be able to take the lump-sum, but can I look at both of them and say, 'Everyone's going to fund and you'll be able to take a lump sum when you retire?' And the answer was no.''

So, the issue isn't as direct as the league saying "Take your money and retire now, or you are screwed." The issue is, people just don't know what is going to happen in the future. Because of teams opting out of the plan, there was the chance people like Mudd and Moore would be denied pension money if the retired later than June 2009.

It's likely, Polian thinks, that both men would get their lump sums regardless of when they retired. But because the Colts couldn't tell them with certainty, they retired. Technically, it's because of the change in the pension system that Moore and Mudd did what they did. But Mudd has been a pro coach for 35 seasons. One of those years was for a team (San Francisco, 1977) that will likely opt out of the system. Is there any way on earth that a federal pension analyst would deny Mudd's attempt to take a lump-sum retirement payment if he worked one more year with the Colts, and in only one of the 36 years he worked in pro football did a team not fund its pension plan fully? Highly, highly doubtful. It's almost absurd to think Mudd would have gotten turned down trying to take his pension all at once. But because no one could tell him absolutely, he retired.

When all is said and done, retirement for these men has been discussed for a several years now. Indeed, when Tony Dungy retired, both men had to be talked out of retiring by Polian. There is also still the possibility that both men may return to the Colts as consultants.

Of course, this still does not excuse owners like Jerry Jones, Bob Kraft, and Bud Adams Bob McNair acting like douches by opting out of the pension plan and then doing a piss poor job to inform current and past team employees. I think that is the reason so many NFL assistant coaches are pissed.

If Moore and Mudd return as consultants, it is likely that they will not be involved in gameday coaching. It would suck for Christensen and Metzelaars to get promoted only to have their authority on the sidelines undercut by two consultants. Mudd's biggest asset to the Colts is his development of players on the offensive line. He can still do that as a consultant. Moore's biggest asset to the Colts is how well he develops gameplans. He can still do that, working with Christensen and Peyton Manning, prior to games.

But, on gameday, Christensen calls the plays and Metzelaars coaches the hogs. I don't think it can work any other way.

[UPDATE] Apologies to Titans fans. I meant to write Bob McNair (owner of Texans), not Bud Adams (owner of Titans). My fault. Feel free to hate me some more. --BBS

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