INDIANAPOLIS – Last year at the 101 Awards, the Colts took home the AFC Coach of the Year honor awarded to Bruce Arians and Chuck Pagano.
The Colts were back in Kansas City on Saturday night for the 44th Annual 101 Awards as more hardware would be returning back to Indianapolis.
This time it was Pagano doing the presenting and Robert Mathis doing the accepting for the AFC Defensive Player of the Year award.
Mathis joins Dwight Freeney (2005) and Bob Sanders (2007) as past Colts who have captured the honor.
As Pagano shared his thoughts on the Colts all-time sack leader, the head coach went back to his first days on the job.
"One of my first priorities was the guy sitting over here to my right. Robert Mathis was not under contract. One of the first things I did was reach out to Robert."
After some coaxing and a little film session to introduce Mathis to a standup linebacker role in the Colts new 3-4 hybrid defense, No. 98 was all in.
"He's everything you are looking for in a football player," Pagano said of Mathis. "He loves the game of football. He plays with great passion and energy. (Pundits) didn't think we were going to do much but it was guys like Robert that jumped in and took a leap of faith.
"I got to watch this guy from afar but now it's an honor and privilege to be on the same sideline and to be around this guys and coach this guy. There's not a better person, human being, father, husband, mentor."
Mathis, a man who isn't too big on talking about himself, joked that he was just making Pagano sweat back in 2012. He's always "bled blue" so there wasn't much coaxing needed for Mathis to remain in Indianapolis.
That decision has certainly paid off with Mathis turning in a career-season in his 11th year in the NFL.
In typical Mathis fashion, he kept his acceptance speech short but wanted to thank those closest to him.
"First off, I'm thankful for God Almighty. Without him, nothing is possible. Second, my mom. She's sick but she's here in my heart. My wife for her support, 100 percent.
"I cherish this award and Go Colts."
Below is a brief description of the 101 Awards:*
Many of the greatest players and coaches in the history of the National Football League have walked the stage at the 101 Awards. Each year since 1969, the most outstanding offensive player, defensive player and coach of the year in both the AFC and NFC are chosen in a nationwide media vote. The winner in each category is presented with the prestigious 101 trophy at the annual awards event in Kansas City.*