Through the past decade-and-a-half Indianapolis Colts fans have had a lot to cheer about. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the likes of Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney and many more greats bless the city with some amazing football.
The latest to make the move into retirement was Robert Mathis, and his article in The Player’s Tribune may give you chills when you soak in all that his journey entailed to be who he is today in local football lore. It is literally a tale of that guy on your local high school football team who far extends his expected reach once he gets his opportunity late in high school.
Mathis’ story delves into his impoverished childhood in Atlanta, about how he struggled to run for any extended period of time due to his being “pudgy kid” despite his dream of becoming the next Barry Sanders. Mathis notes that after getting a scholarship “by accident” that he eventually led the country in sacks his senior year at Alabama A&M.
It’s surreal to feel the angst for an eventual Hall of Fame player when they tell their story, but I found myself rocking my head back in empathy as Mathis spoke about the phone calls he got on draft day.
In the third-round from the Cleveland Browns and again in the fourth from the San Diego Chargers, each organization relayed to him by phone that they were going to draft him with their next pick only to have those selections come and go with someone else’s name being called.
Mathis does go into some detail about when he eventually became an Indianapolis Colt, for example, about his first days in his rookie season as well as eventually lining up opposite Dwight Freeney and what they became as a duo. He also reveals how much the team respected and responded well to Tony Dungy and his style of coaching, how his half time speech in the 2007 AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots was exactly what they needed to hear and much more.
Something additional that we have been fortunate enough to have are players who become active members of the community, and love the city they continue to call home enough to remain after their careers have ended. Mathis speaks to the hearts of the citizens of Indianapolis towards the end of his piece, ultimately passing on the genuine love that he has for the city and his morph from Colts great, to Colts fan.
Take the 5 minutes to read his piece and be grateful that we have been able to root for him and so many like him in our collective lifetimes. Though it seems as if we could possibly have more eventually coming down the same road to greatness, taking in the positive personal memories of one of the best at what he did is still an occurrence that is few and far between.