Veteran LB Robert Mathis to retire after 14 seasons with Colts

ByMike Wells ESPN logo
Friday, December 30, 2016

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis will retire after Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after 14 years with the organization, he announced during a press conference Friday.

"Put a cap on a blessed career," Mathis said. "Something I would have never imagined that would come to pass. Severely blessed, fortunate. God has been good to me."

Mathis, who was selected in the fifth round out of Alabama A&M in 2003, spent his entire career with the Colts. He was outspoken in saying that he played with a chip on his shoulders because critics said he went to a small college, was too small and wasn't quick enough to chase down quarterbacks in the NFL.

That chip worked for Mathis because he's heading into Sunday's game as the Colts' franchise leader in sacks (122) and he has an NFL-record 40 career strip sacks. His best season was in 2013 when he had 19.5 sacks.

He missed all of the 2014 season, first because of a four-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs and then because of a torn Achilles.

Mathis, who has four sacks this season, is tied with Simeon Rice for 18th place for all-time sacks.

"All that he does inside this building and all that he does outside this building for the community, he is a warrior, they don't make them like that," coach Chuck Pagano said. "I wish they all had his drive and his passion, his love for the game and his toughness and durability, coachability, tenacity, resolve and everything.

"He is a guy that nothing was given to him, he earned his way into this league and he has never taken it for granted, not one day. He never let any of the success or fame or money or this, that and the other ever get to him. He has been the same guy for 14 seasons. He looks at it as a privilege and not a right. So many times you find it the other way.

"I wish they all got it and figured it out like he figured it out and came with that gratitude every single day."