The Colts relied heavily on linebacker Robert Mathis to provide them with a pass rush last season, but they’ll have to find another alternative for the first four games of the regular season.
The league announced Friday afternoon that Mathis has been suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season because of a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The Colts released a statement about the suspension as well.
“We have learned that Robert Mathis will be required to serve a four game suspension under the League’s policy on prohibited substances. We recognize the extreme seriousness of this matter and will honor the confidentiality requirements of the League’s program. We nevertheless wish to assure Robert and our fans that he remains an honored and cherished member of the Colts family and that we support him as he deals with this difficult challenge.”
Mathis also released a statement through his representatives. He calls himself a man of integrity and explained that the banned substance was related to fertility treatments he was taking in hopes of having a baby with his wife.
“Like many families, my wife and I faced fertility challenges, and I sought medical assistance. I specifically asked the doctor if the medication he prescribed for me would present a problem for NFL drug testing, and unfortunately, he incorrectly told me that it would not. I made the mistake of not calling the NFL or NFLPA to double check before I took the medication at the end of last season. The union has worked very closely with me to present all of the facts and medical records for consideration of discipline that does not include a suspension because of the unique facts of my case, but the Commissioner refused the request. I am deeply saddened that this situation will prevent me from contributing to my team for four games, and I regret that I didn’t cross check what my doctor told me before I took the medication.”
Mathis apologized to the team and Colts fans in the statement, which also includes the happier news that he and his wife are expecting a child later this year.
The suspension means Mathis will miss the Colts’ season-opening trip to Denver as well as games against the Eagles, Jaguars and Titans before he is eligible to return to the field. Replacing the production of a player who had 19.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles last year is not going to be easy for the Colts and they may find themselves with some early catching up to do if they can’t do it.