INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Outside linebacker Robert Mathis announced Friday he will retire following the Indianapolis Colts’ season finale against Jacksonville on Sunday.
The former Alabama A&M standout spent all 14 of his NFL seasons with the Colts and his 122 career sacks are a franchise record.
At the age of 35 and with his contract about to expire, Mathis said he decided to leave the game on his own terms rather than trying to hang on for another year. He also had battled injuries each of the past three seasons.
Some teammates knew Mathis was leaning toward retirement even before he told them after breaking down the huddle after practice Friday. He told reporters a short time later, saying he had made up his mind about a month ago.
Mathis was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs, setting a what was then the NCAA I-AA record with 20 sacks in his senior season. He officially graduated from AAMU in 2010 with a degree in exercise science.
The Indianapolis Colts selected Mathis in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. The linebacker went on to earn six Pro Bowl selections, as well as a Super Bowl ring, when the Colts beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
Throughout all of his professional success, Mathis also focused on mentoring the next generation. The former Bulldog held a free football camp for kids every year on the Hill. He also hosted fundraisers for the Boys & Girls Club in Huntsville and made multiple donations to AAMU.
“Let the kids know that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can be successful,” he said at his camp in 2013. “It’s just a matter of believing in yourself. Just to get to where you wanna be.”