Robert Mathis was always the type to let his play do his talking for him.
And on Sunday, upon seeing his name unveiled in the Lucas Oil Stadium rafters as the newest member of the Indianapolis Colts' Ring of Honor, Mathis, once again, kept it short and simple.
"I am so humbled, I am so honored, and I am so proud to call myself an Indiana native," Mathis told the crowd during his Ring of Honor ceremony, held at halftime of Sunday's Week 12 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "You guys accepted me from my rookie year — my whole adult life I've been here. I'm not leaving. I am Indy; Indy is me."
Mathis, of course, is referencing his 14 Hall of Fame-worthy NFL seasons — all of which were played in Indianapolis, where he became one of the most feared pass rushers in league history.
From 2003 to 2016, No. 98 finished with 604 tackles (456 solo), 123.0 sacks, 18 passes defensed, 52 forced fumbles, 17 fumble recoveries (three returned for touchdowns), one interception and 15 special teams stops. He appeared in another 18 postseason contests (11 starts) and tallied 48 tackles (32 solo) with 6.5 sacks, two passes defensed, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, and was a key member of the Colts' Super Bowl XLI-winning team.
Mathis finished his career ranked 17th in league history — and first in Colts franchise history — in sacks, and his 47 sack-forced fumbles are a league record. He was named to six consecutive Pro Bowls (2008-2013) and was voted a 2013 Associated Press and Sporting News First Team NFL All-Pro selection.
But, as Colts owner Jim Irsay referenced in his Ring of Honor ceremony introduction on Sunday, the Robert Mathis Legend began in 2003, when Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian used a fifth-round pick on an "undersized" edge rusher from tiny Alabama A&M.
It didn't take long for Mathis to shed any sort of preconceived labels he might've had coming into the NFL, however.
"(In) 2003, when Robert Mathis came out of Alabama A&M, Bill Polian engineered a trade, and we sat in the indoor facility, and Robert, I looked at you and I said, as a rookie, 'You're gonna be a great football player,'" Irsay told Mathis Sunday. "And, sure enough, as he moved forward: 54 forced fumbles, 123 sacks, 47 strip-sacks. And as a man over in that locker room that remembers these guys, and this man in particular, I can't say enough about the blood, sweat and tears, Colts fans, that Robert has given to the franchise, to the joy that he has given to this city and state.
"Robert, we love you so much, and we're so fired up to put your name where it belongs."
And, fittingly, Mathis' name is now forever displayed in the Lucas Oil Stadium right next to his fellow quarterback hating, pass-rushing partner, Dwight Freeney, who joined Irsay on stage on Sunday to help Mathis get into his blue Ring of Honor jacket for the first time.
"This guy behind me? I had nothing to worry about," Freeney said of Mathis at Sunday's celebration. "Every down, I knew he was gonna be there, he was gonna make plays for us. And today is his day, man."
Before the trio left the stage, Mathis had just a couple more words for the fans and for the Colts' defense — and perhaps a nod to Tom Brady, the Buccaneers' quarterback on Sunday who was victimized by five regular-season Mathis sacks in his career.
"Just get to the quarterback," Mathis said.
"And strip the ball!" Irsay added.
Go on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium to see former defensive end Robert Mathis inducted into the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor.