Robert Mathis was born on February 26, 1981, and the story of his career is one that is much different than most other NFL players. He began playing football back in High School for the McNair High School Mustangs in Atlanta. Mathis was a very good High School player, and moved on to continue his football career at the Division 1-AA level with the Alabama A&M Bulldogs. He was a four year starter with the Bulldogs at defensive end, and it was during his senior season in which he posted an incredible 20 sacks that pro scouts finally began to catch on to his talent. This 20 sack total that he posted set the record for the most sacks in a single season in Division 1-AA, and made it known that Mathis was a man playing among boys. Prior to his senior season though, Mathis was a preseason All-SWAC player, and his total numbers throughout his college career definitely lived up to that preseason selection. His four year numbers from Alabama A&M ended up totaling up to 221 tackles, 44 sacks, an exceptional 20 forced fumbles, and five fumble recoveries.
Mathis then decided to enter his name into the 2003 NFL Draft, as he was projected to be a potential mid-round selection. He was just that, being selected in the 5th round as the 138th overall selection to the Indianapolis Colts, and instantly jumping into action as a rookie. Something interesting to note, is that Mathis was selected in the same draft as first round pick Dallas Clark, and both players are still huge parts of the Colts organization to this day.
In Mathis’s rookie season with the Colts, he played in small doses as a pass rush specialist of every game of the season, and was able to rack up 20 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. His second season was when it all really began to come together for the strong defensive end, and it’s important to point out that he only started one game that year. In this season Mathis played the same role as a pass rush specialist, but racked up 36 tackles, an impressive 10.5 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles. The growth of his career didn’t stop there, as he was then able to set a Colts record, racking up 8 games in a row in which he got at least 1 sack in 2005; and he finished up the year with 54 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, and a new contract offer, even after missing three games that year.
His new contract was signed after the 2005 season, which was a 5 year, $30 million deal which set the bar as one of the largest contracts ever paid to a defensive end. The year of Mathis’s new contract, he started every game for the Colts, and was a huge part of their incredible run to becoming Super Bowl 41 Champions, as they knocked off the Chicago Bears. Mathis has also been selected to go to the Pro-Bowl three times in his career, in 2008, 2009, and 2010. To this day, Mathis and Dwight Freeney are widely considered to be one of the best defensive end combos in the entire NFL.