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Robert Mathis to retire Sunday after Colts vs. Jaguars

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One of the NFL's all-time greats is playing his final game Sunday.

Colts linebacker and pass-rushing specialist Robert Mathis announced his plans to retire after Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 35-year-old is just a half sack behind Dwight Freeney on the list of active sack leaders. In 14 years, Mathis logged 122 quarterback takedowns.

"I want to walk away, not limp away. The rest of my body goes to my kids," Mathis told reporters Friday.

A true modern Colts legend, Mathis is one of just four players -- Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas and Reggie Wayne being the others -- who have spent 14 seasons with the franchise. Mathis will walk away as the franchise's unquestioned sack king. He's also the Colts' all-time leader in forced fumbles with 53.

An argument can most certainly be made for both Mathis and Freeney as the best defensive players in modern Colts history.

"Indy, this is my home. I am a Colt," he said. "I'm here forever. You aren't getting rid of me."

Mathis announced his decision via Instagram just before confirming it to reporters. According to coach Chuck Pagano, he told players about his decision to retire after Friday's practice.

A video posted by Robert Mathis (@rmathis_the1st) on

"He's a great player, a great teammate, a great man," Pagano said.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Mathis was the defensive face of a different brand of football in Indianapolis. Long before Andrew Luck was the only show in town, Mathis and Freeney book-ended one of the more fearsome pass rushes in the NFL. Mathis had double-digit sacks in five of his 14 seasons, and finished with 9.5 sacks in three others.

He had a career-best 19.5 sacks just three years ago at age 32.

Known for the wide sprinter's stance and breakneck pace at which he rushed the quarterback, Mathis will go down as one of the true sack artists of his generation. Coming up in an era where brute force defined most pass rushers, Mathis helped bring about a shift toward speed, preparation and technical perfection. He's currently listed at just 245 pounds. Once an unheralded prospect out of Alabama A&M, Mathis recalled a time when he just hoped Indianapolis wouldn't cut him.

"I just wanted to make the team in 2003, just wanted to make the team, special teams and basically just wanted to see if I could play, play football with these guys, coming from a small black college -- Alabama A&M -- the hill," he said. "Just to see if I could compete, stomp with the big dogs basically."

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