Colts losing Mathis to retirement after Sunday
indianapolis» When Robert Mathis speaks, the Indianapolis Colts listen. Every time.
It’s a right the outside linebacker earned by playing 14 productive NFL seasons — all with the same team, all with the same passion, all with the same penchant for putting quarterbacks on the ground.
So when he finished practice Friday and gathered his teammates, Mathis stood in the center and made his announcement quickly and clearly: Sunday’s season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars will be his last game. He made it official a short time later in an emotional news conference. “This will be 98’s last game,” he said. Mathis had been around long enough to know how fickle the football business can be.
He’s seen the Colts let some of his closest friends — Dwight Freeney, Reggie Wayne and Antoine Bethea — walk away in free agency. He remembers Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison failing to get a call when Indy didn’t re-sign him after 2008. And he will never forget the mind-blowing moment on March 7, 2012, when team owner Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning tearfully announced they were parting ways.
And at age 35, the signs were all there that he could be next big game to hit the street.
After missing only 13 games in his first 11 pro seasons, Mathis has missed 19 games over the last three, including the entire 2014 season — the first four to serve a performance-enhancers suspension for what he claimed was a banned fertility drug, the last 12 after suffering a torn Achilles tendon.