Gift of armor honors Colts captain Robert Mathis
Standing guard in the Colts locker room is an impressive full suit of Greek armor, a gift from a pair of grateful teammates to their defensive captain Robert Mathis.
"It caught me off guard because I've never seen one in real life," said the 33-year-old Mathis, entering his 12th season. "That's the real deal. I was humbled by it."
The black body armor, with helmet, features gold accents. On the left shoulder is a Colts horseshoe. On the right shoulder is a plate listing the highlights of Mathis' incredible 2013 season. Fellow Colts outside linebackers Daniel Adongo and Bjoern Werner also put their initials on their gift to Mathis.
"He's a warrior," said Werner. "Danny had the idea of getting armor - Greek back in the day - fighters, gladiators."
"I consider Rob to be a warrior," added Adongo. "He does things that are warrior like - his spirit, his demeanor."
Mathis collected a franchise record 19 1/2 sacks last season to lead the NFL and win the Deacon Jones Award as the league's sack champion. He became the Colts franchise leader in sacks and was named to his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl. But Mathis still took time to help a pair of rookies.
"He could have been selfish saying, 'Those young guys, I'm not going to take care of them,' said Werner. "But he took care of us on the field, off the field, wherever, in the meeting room, just when we had questions, when we needed him."
Werner, the Colts first round draft pick (24th overall) from Germany, played in 13 games in his first season. He collected two and a half sacks and made 15 tackles, playing a reserve role on defense and special teams.
Adongo learned football from scratch. The former professional rugby player from South Africa did not even know how to put on his pads when the Colts signed him last summer. Adongo spent most of last season on the practice squad. He joined the active roster in December and played in just two games without a tackle.
"They're humble guys," said Mathis. "They're empty vessels. They just came asking wanting to learn the game. It's kind of big brother, little brother type deal."
The suit of armor honors the Colts conqueror of quarterbacks.
"That small memento can't even give back or compare," said Adongo. "It's not comparable to what he has done for me and what he has done for this team and what he has done for this city. I think he's a great man, a great leader and I aspire to be like him one day."
Mathis must sit out the first four games of the upcoming season for violating the NFL policy on using performance-enhancing drugs. Mathis said he tested positive for a fertility drug. He and his wife have struggled to have children. Mathis admits he did not check to see if taking the drug would be a problem with NFL drug testing.