Robert Mathis terrorized offensive linemen and ball carriers alike in his 14 NFL seasons. He'll soon enjoy a place of football immortality.
Mathis will be inducted into the Indianapolis Colts' Ring of Honor on Nov. 22, the team announced Monday.
The NFL's all-time leader in forced fumbles (54) spent his entire career with the Colts after he was selected in the fifth round of the 2003 draft out of Alabama A&M. He proved to be worth much more than his draft position almost immediately, breaking double-digit sacks in his second season and forcing 17 fumbles over his first three campaigns.
"From a fifth round pick from a small college to one of the most effective and feared defensive players in the NFL, Robert Mathis was a centerpiece of the historic Colts teams of the last two decades," Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a statement released by the team. "He was undersized and underrated, but he made up for it with a motor that wouldn't quit and a flawless technique that outmatched the most talented lineman in the league. And to watch him strip-sack the quarterback -- which he did better and more than anyone in NFL history -- was a thing of beauty. What's more, Robert has stayed connected to the Horseshoe and has helped guide and teach our next generation of players. We are so proud that his name and his Hall of Fame-worthy career will be celebrated and remembered in Indianapolis from this day forward."
Paired with Dwight Freeney, Mathis was one half of a edge-rushing nightmare that constantly pressured opposing quarterbacks who faced the unenviable task of attempting to match wits with Peyton Manning. They tried to do so under constant duress provided by Mathis and Freeney, who combined to record an astounding 186 sacks and 74 forced fumbles from 2003-2012. Mathis retired with 47 sack-forced fumbles in his career, a mark that still stands as a league record today.
Mathis made five Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro in 2013, the same season in which he led the NFL in sacks and was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He'll join Freeney in the team's Ring of Honor this fall.