To listen to them talk, Howard Mudd and Jim Washburn share a love of motorcycles, competition, teaching, line play and irascibility. Despite Mudd coaching the offensive line in Indianapolis and Washburn the defensive line in Tennessee, despite more than a decade spent as fierce rivals in the AFC South, these two - now joined on the Eagles' coaching staff - have developed a friendship that took them on a trip riding motorcycles in South Africa in 2009.
"I just had a wanderlust," Washburn said. "I love motorcycles. I like to travel. It just seemed like a good thing to do. I was looking for something different. It was almost a life-changing thing. We went to orphanages, schools . . .
"It was special. I spent 3 weeks with a guy like that, got to see things you'd never see. It was awesome."
NFL Films did a segment on the trip; you can view the video at http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-films-presents/09000d5d814d61cc/NFL-Films-Presents-Opposites-attract. It is a wonderful portrait of this unique relationship, and of that particular trip.
"I get this phone call," Mudd said, remembering how it all started. "He says, 'Hey, what do you think, let's go to South Africa on a motorcycle trip.' I said, 'What?'
"He said, 'It's real expensive but we ought to try this, we ought to do this one time in our life.' It was an incredible journey that we went on."
Now, they're here on Andy Reid's staff. It is beyond crazy. A month ago, Mudd had been retired for a year and Washburn was on the staff of the longest-tenured coach in the NFL. Now both are here, part of a kaleidoscope of changes on the Eagles' coaching staff. Now they get to work together after banging heads for so long. Their personal relationship developed during a joint training-camp practice between the teams.
"We worked against the Colts one camp," Washburn said. "They came down and we worked against them. We start talking and I was trying to be a [jerk] but he's just such a good guy. We started talking about motorcycles - we both like motorcycles. He said, 'Well, let's ride in the offseason,' and we did, and we just became friends.
"He's sort of a different dude, and I'm like a way-different dude, and we sort of had a good time. He's just a good person."
Washburn said, "When he retired, what a terrible thing that was. All that knowledge he had - I wished I could take a chip out of his brain and put it in mine. It's just so cool that he's here. I'm OK but he's really good. That's the truth . . . He was out-of-the-box before out-of-the-box was ever a term. Get him in a conversation - you might never get out."
Still, it began with motorcycles.
"We found this common ground of motorcycling, and we talked about it before every game," Mudd said.
They also would sometimes talk the Friday before their games against each other. Mudd said the conversations would go like this:
Mudd: "Did you work a lot on the draw this week."
Mudd: "Good, we're not running it."
"Stuff like that," Mudd said, laughing. "But we have this professional respect - a lot. There's no one that coaches that position better than Jim. The proof is in the people he's taken, that have failed in other places, and they've distinguished themselves with their play. [Jason] Babin was the last one. Kyle Vanden Bosch. Those people that are kind of no-name people. You'd better tape your ankles if you're going to play against Washburn."
Washburn was the first one hired by Reid - and Mudd talked him through the process. Then, Mudd was surprised to be contacted by Reid about coming out of retirement to replace Juan Castillo as offensive line coach. Reid said he wouldn't have moved Castillo to defensive coordinator if Mudd had not agreed to join the Eagles.
"The whole Wash thing, that was just icing on the cake for me," Mudd said. "There was something that just got put together, whether you're a spiritual person or not. Somewhere along the line, all of that had to get put together. I know it was exceedingly comfortable to know that Wash was here and we're really good friends."