After 14 years of terrorizing NFL quarterbacks, Indianapolis Colts‘ outside linebacker Robert Mathis announced he will be returning after Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mathis, 35, said he made his decision prior to the Nov. 6 game at Green Bay. He chose to make his announcement Friday to his teammates first and then at the news conference. He was very appreciative and gracious about playing football for as long as he did.
"“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… It’s time to step aside. Game has been good to me. I want to pay it forward. I want to leave it better than I found it. And injuries, I want to walk away. I don’t want to limp away. Rest of my body goes to my kids.”"
He also took to Instagram to announce his retirement and express his gratitude towards Colts’ nation.
The Colts selected Mathis in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Alabama A&M. In many ways, Indianapolis took a chance on him because Mathis played at a small college, was too small and wasn’t quick enough to pressure NFL quarterbacks.
More from Ink on Indy
- Still Searching for Their Groove, Pacers Take on Struggling Magic Thursday Night
- Pacers Travel to the Nation’s Capital to Begin Four Game Road Trip
- Update on Pacers’ Oladipo’s Serious Leg Injury
- Has Romeo Langford Been a Disappointment for the Hoosiers?
- The Indianapolis Colts Have a Brutal Road Schedule in 2019
Mathis was often outspoken about those criticisms and played with a chip on his shoulder as a result. His motivation to prove critics wrong became the Colts’ gain as he flourished and spent his entire career with the franchise.
Mathis will end his final NFL game as the franchise leader in sacks (122) and currently holds the NFL-record 40 career strip sacks. Of course, his finest work came in 2013, when he had 19.5 sacks.
Obviously, a lot of players and staff members had plenty of things to say about Mathis’ retirement. Most notable, the oldest player on the team kicker Adam Vinatieri had nice things to say about his teammate.
“Robert is kind of that quiet guy that doesn’t speak a whole lot, but when he speaks and says something, it’s just straight gold,” Vinatieri said. “He came to work every day and became a superstar through hard work. He’s awesome.”
Vinatieri joined Indianapolis in 2006 so he has been teammates with Mathis for a decade. With No. 98’s departure, he becomes the longest tenured Colt.
Head coach Chuck Pagano also had a couple of thoughts about Mathis’ retirement.
“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,” 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.”
Mathis’ final game will be an Sunday afternoon affair at 1:00 p.m. ET. Hopefully, he gets a sack or two and the Colts can send him off right with a victory in his final game.