INDIANAPOLIS — One of the greatest pass rushers in the history of both Alabama A&M and the National Football League (NFL), Robert Mathis was honored by the Indianapolis Colts as he became just the 17th individual to be inducted into that organization's Ring of Honor on Sunday, November 28.
A 14-year professional career that included a Super Bowl Championship and a Top-20 ranking all-time in league history in sacks began just off Memorial Parkway in Normal, Alabama at then recent NCAA Division I member AAMU in 1999.
In his four years as a Bulldog, Mathis terrorized opposing offenses to the tune of a program record 44 sacks and 88.5 tackles for loss while recording a I-AA record 20 of those sacks as a senior in 2002.
That season would also see him set program marks of 32 TFLs for a single campaign and single game marks of five sacks and eight TFLs on his way to Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Defensive Player of the Year and his third straight All-SWAC honor. He would also add 58 tackles and an impressive 10 forced fumbles.
For his career he finished with 221 tackles and 20 forced fumbles in 39 games for averages of 5.7 tackles and 0.5 forced fumbles to go with 1.1 sacks per game.
Additionally, he was the first individual to be named a Player of the Year in the program's DI history and remains just one of two individuals to accomplish the feat, the other being Aqeel Glass with back-to-back Offensive Player of the Year honors (Spring 2021, Fall 2021).
Following that standout career he would be drafted in the fifth round of the NFL Draft (Pick No. 138) and would go on to have a stellar 14-year career with the Colts – a career that has him eligible this year for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Teaming with fellow 2003 draftee Dwight Freeney, Mathis brought his dominance at the I-AA level to the NFL, producing 604 tackles, 123 sacks, 52 forced fumbles, a league record 47 strip sacks, 17 fumble recoveries and an interception.
That production earned him five seasons with double-digit sacks, five Pro Bowl selections and 2013 AFC Defensive Player of the Year recognition, with the latter coming after recording 19.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles, both career-highs. He would also register 9.5 sacks, a career-best 65 tackles and four forced fumbles in 2006 when he helped lead the Colts to a 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI on February 4, 2007.
His 123 career sacks were 17th all-time upon his retirement and now sit in 19th, very fittingly right behind teammate Freeney's 125.5. As a result of his tremendous career and his roots at Alabama A&M, Mathis was also inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2020 and the AAMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019.
Mathis' Ring of Honor induction was originally announced in June of 2020 and slated for later that year but the ceremony was moved to this past weekend with the return of fans to NFL stadiums this season.