The honors just keep piling up for Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis. Today's was probably the most significant one yet - he was named a first team All-Pro by the Associated Press.
Unlike Pro Bowl voting (which Mathis was named to, also), the All-Pro teams carry legitimate weight and are much more prestigious. As NFL.com writer Gregg Rosenthal wrote in an article listing the All-Pro teams, "the Pro Bowl is for the best players in the NFL. The annual All-Pro team is for the best of the best."
There is no doubt that Mathis belongs among the best of the best in 2013, as he had a phenomenal season in which he captured the NFL's sack crown with 19.5 sacks and forced 8 fumbles as well, extending his NFL record for forced fumbles and setting Colts' franchise records in both single-season and career sack totals.
Mathis was one of only 8 AFC players to be named a first team All-Pro and one of only 3 AFC players to earn the recognition on the defensive side of the ball. Mathis was the only Colt to be named to either the first or second team list. Peyton Manning was the only former Colt to make an appearance on either list, being the unanimous choice at quarterback and earning his 6th career first team All-Pro recognition (in addition to one second team All-Pro).
The other outside linebacker named first team All-Pro was the Buccaneers Lavonte David, who stunningly and inexplicably was not named to the Pro Bowl. I'm glad to see that the AP writers gave him the recognition that he deserves. The second team All-Pros at outside linebacker was the Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali and Ahmad Brooks of the 49ers.
I wrote about the case for why Robert Mathis should win the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award here, and below is a summary of Mathis's season purely in terms of his milestones and recognitions:
- Winner of the inaugural Deacon Jones award, given annually to the NFL's sack leader - Mathis led the league with 19.5 this season.
- Mathis set the Colts franchise record with 111 career sacks and 19.5 sacks in a single-season, surpassing the marks previously held by Dwight Freeney.
- Forced 8 fumbles, extending his own NFL record for strip/sacks.
- Named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Month for both the month of October and the month of December (winning two of the four AFC Defensive Player of the Month awards for 2013).
- Named to the 2013 Pro Bowl, the sixth such selection in his career.
- Named first team All-Pro, the first such selection in his career.