Robert Mathis never got to see Deacon Jones take down opposing quarterbacks in person.
He learned to appreciate Jones’ creativity over time.
The Colts Pro Bowl linebacker and newly crowned sacks champion was honored Thursday as the inaugural winner of the NFL’s Deacon Jones Award, which goes to the league’s sacks leader. Mathis will be recognized at the NFL award banquet Feb. 1.
“Deacon Jones is the creator of the sack, so to be able to win the first award in his honor is an honor,” Mathis told reporters in Indianapolis. “I’m very proud that I was able to win it and I thank my teammates, mainly the d-line, who were very instrumental in helping me get to the quarterback.”
League officials named the award after Jones died June 3 at age 74. Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
Mathis has been one of the league’s top sack artists since joining the Colts as a fifth-round draft pick in 2003. For nearly a decade, Mathis and Dwight Freeney were among the NFL’s most feared pass-rushing tandems.
But when Freeney left in free agency during the offseason, the critics contended Mathis would struggle without his longtime teammate and close friend.
Instead, Mathis used it as motivation. When asked Thursday why he has played so well over the years, Mathis responded: “The fact that I do have a chip on my shoulder every time I play. When people say you can’t do something, you want to show them that you can.”
So the 32-year-old who is in his second season as a rush linebacker delivered the best season of his career.
He broke Freneey’s franchise record for sacks in a season (16) with 191⁄2 and became the Colts’ career sacks leader (111), surpassing Freeney’s previous mark (107 1/2). Mathis finished the regular season with 65 tackles, matched his career high with eight forced fumbles — two of which led to safeties — and helped lead the Colts to their first AFC South title without Peyton Manning.
Indy (11-5) will host Kansas City (11-5) on Saturday afternoon in a wild-card game.
Mathis, who was the sacks leader most of the season, even came up with two sacks in the regular-season finale to move past St. Louis’ Robert Quinn and join Freeney as the only Colts players to win a sacks title. Freeney took that honor in 2004.
Robert Mathis never got to see Deacon Jones take down opposing quarterbacks in person.
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First it was running back Vick Ballard, who suffered a torn left Achilles during practice last Friday. And on Wednesday, offensive guard Donald Thomas went down with a torn right quadriceps muscle.
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A former standout at Ohio State, the 6-foot-6, 308-pound Mewhort was selected by the Colts in the second round of this spring’s NFL draft. And since Indianapolis didn’t have a first-round pick, the Toledo, Ohio, native is getting a lot more scrutiny that most second-rounders taken in the draft.
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The theme at Anderson University carried over to the field and the Colts’ 14 turnovers were the fewest in the NFL last year.
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Colts know what they want to accomplish at mini-camp
With three weeks of organized team activity practices now behind them, the Indianapolis Colts headed into their three-day mandatory mini-camp Tuesday with a specific goal in mind when training camp starts July 23 at Anderson University.
The mini-camp will continue today and wrap up early Thursday afternoon.
Team’s all-time top tight end Clark to retire as Colt
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Colts agree to terms with veteran safety
Mike Adams will get a chance to erase bad memories from Super Bowl XLVIII as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
The franchise announced Saturday morning it had agreed to terms with the veteran safety.
Adams started the NFL's most recent championship game at free safety for the Denver Broncos and recorded six tackles in a 43-8 loss against the Seattle Seahawks.
Ex-Sycamore Lutz begins NFL journey with Colts
The end of the journey. Or, really, just the beginning. That's how former Indiana State center FN Lutz described his emotions after signing a free-agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday morning.
Newcomers to Colts trying to find their way
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Pagano, Colts look at Mathis' suspension as opportunity for young players
The Indianapolis Colts lost first-year head coach Chuck Pagano for most of 2012 season as he battled leukemia. Gloom and doom was predicted. The result? An 11-5 record and a trip to the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs.
NFL suspends Colts’ Robert Mathis
While the Indianapolis Colts three-day rookie mini-camp got under way Friday morning, the biggest news didn’t come until later in the day.
Grigson excited about potential of Colts' 2014 draft picks
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Colts take versatile offensive lineman with first pick
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Colts keep options open as NFL Draft begins today
While the 2014 NFL Draft gets underway today (8 p.m.) at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, the Indianapolis Colts will be sitting the first round out.
Thanks to last September’s trade with the Cleveland Browns that brought running back Trent Richardson – a 2012 first-round selection by the Browns – to Indianapolis, the Colts will be on the outside looking in this evening.
Colts’ Luck getting timing down with newcomer Nicks
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Colts open against Manning, Broncos
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Colts take another look at Shakir Bell
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Police: Colts owner had $29K in cash when arrested
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Family source: Irsay has gone to treatment facility
The family of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday that he has placed himself in a treatment facility after police found multiple prescription drugs in his vehicle during a traffic stop.
The 54-year-old Irsay, who acknowledged a painkiller dependency more than a decade ago, faces preliminary charges of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested near his home in suburban Carmel late Sunday and released the next day.
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