Robert Mathis hears the whispers.
You’re too old.
You’re not productive.
You can’t come back from that.
The Colts linebacker came back strong from an Achilles injury last season, tallying 7 sacks after missing the 2014 season.
But through the first five games of the 2016-2017 season, Mathis hasn’t been himself. At 35 years old he’s trying to outrun Father Time (who, as many athletes have noted, is undefeated). The Colts are also depending on him to lead a pass rush that hasn’t impressed anyone this season.
Mathis, the Colts’ franchise sack leader, didn’t record his first sack of the season until Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans.
He’s been dealing with turf toe, which has affected his explosiveness and ability to spin off blocks. He refuses to make excuses.
Then again, Mathis has never been one to let “the whispers” get to him.
Take his Twitter bio, for example, which notes that he’s always heard he’s, “too small, too dumb, too slow, too short and too talentless” to succeed and rebuts each point:
Im TOO (SMALL235lbs,DUMB 3.4GPA, SLOW4.5forty,SHORT6’0,TALENTLESS 2SBs& 6ProBowls 2013SackKing) to be where I am today. FAITH…FAMILY…FOOTBALL
Let’s just say he’s never lacked for motivation.
Mathis posted a photo on his Instagram page of him post-surgery with the caption:
When God & your wife [are] the only ones in the room with you and the only 2 that believe you can come back from 10 of these, any other hurdles & outside opinions are as valuable to me than spit on [poop emoji]. #STILLiGRIND #GODonDUTY
Mathis said earlier this week that his wife, Brandi, has had to talk him off the ledge a couple of times this season after his disappointing start.
“She told me to be Robert. ‘Just be Robert’ and that’s probably the best advice I ever got,” he said.
Mathis also sought counsel from friend and former teammate Dwight Freeney. The two remain close, and Mathis refers to Freeney has his “brother.”
“He’s kind of helped me through the process and understand that when they come, they come in bunches,” Mathis said. “You just have to keep chopping wood.”
But for now, the Colts desperately need Mathis to return to form and add to his franchise-record 119 career sacks.