INDIANAPOLIS – Sunday was about family for Robert Mathis.
There was Mathis coming over to his family before the final game of his illustrious career to pose for a pre-game picture.
There was Mathis stunting his way through the middle of the Jaguars offensive line for a fourth-quarter strip/sack. His first ever sack against Blake Bortles (the 62nd different player Mathis has sacked) was capped by a patented strip/sack (the 47th of his career, the most in NFL history), and allowed Mathis to deliver the fumble he recovered right over to his wife.
“I remember the first ball I gave was to my mom,” Mathis said after his “magical” day.
“She’s watching, she’s no longer here so I gave (this ball) to my wife.”
And when the clock struck triple 0’s on Sunday afternoon, Mathis went over to grab his kids to relish in a day that was filled with nerves, but ended in pure joy.
“I was happy,” Mathis said when asked how he would describe his emotions from Sunday.
“To be able to walk off the field healthy and in great spirits with a traditional, typical, grit-ball win, you can’t ask for anything more, so I’m ecstatic right now. Go home celebrate with my family and friends and take it from there.”
The sack for Mathis on Sunday moved him past former teammate Dwight Freeney on the NFL's all-time sack list, into 17th place.
It was Freeney who sent him a congratulatory video message earlier in the week from Atlanta.
The videos for Mathis were abundant again on Sunday.
Before Mathis was announced as the final player during pre-game intros, a tribute video showed on the jumbotron.
Each quarter, the Colts played highlights from Mathis’ 14-year run in Indianapolis ending as the franchise’s all-time sack leader.
Even the Colts players were showed a highlight tape of Mathis’ career when they gathered as a team for meetings on Saturday night.
“You can’t really find the words to describe it,” Indianapolis native Jack Doyle said of his time playing with Mathis. “From watching him as a kid to watching him now, it’s truly the best. Every time he got there you knew the ball was coming out.
“We saw a highlight video him (Saturday) night. It was a trip down memory lane for me. I can’t find the words to describe the relationship and how I see Robert as a leader. It’s been fun to be his teammate.”
Doyle and the Colts were intent listeners to Mathis following the Week 17 victory.
Chuck Pagano delivered one more game ball to Mathis, before No. 98 took the floor.
Protect your dream.
That was Mathis’ lasting message to his football family.
“This,” Andrew Luck said of the victory with Mathis finding his way for another strip/sack, “is the only fitting ending for one of the greatest players of all-time, one of the greatest pass rushers of all-time and probably one of the greatest teammates of all-time.”