NFL announces 4-game suspension for Colts’ Mathis

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(May 16, 2014) – Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis will serve a four-game suspension under the NFL’s prohibited substances policy, the Colts and NFL announced Friday.

According to the league, Mathis violated the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances and will miss the first four games of the 2014 NFL regular season. He will be able to participate in all offseason and preseason activities, the league said. He’ll miss games against the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans. He’ll be eligible to play against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 5.

Mathis said the suspension was the result of a medication he took after last season as he and his wife struggled with infertility. In a statement he posted on Twitter, Mathis said he received incorrect information that the substance would not violate the league’s banned substances policy. He said he would “never intentionally circumvent” league policy.

Mathis won the Deacon Jones Award in 2014 after leading the league with 19.5 sacks and was widely considered a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

He was a fifth-round choice by the Colts in 2003 from Alabama A&M. For several seasons, he played defensive end, terrorizing quarterbacks alongside Dwight Freeney. When the Colts hired coach Chuck Pagano, the Colts installed a new defensive system and Mathis switched to linebacker, a position where he flourished.

Mathis had a sack in 12 of 16 games last season and has 27 career multi-sack games. His 111.0 career sacks is a franchise record.

The Colts released the following statement:

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.

The NFL had this to say on the matter:

Robert Mathis of the Indianapolis Colts has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2014 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances. 

Mathis will be eligible to return to the Colts’ active roster on Monday, September 29 following the team’s September 28 game against the Tennessee Titans.

Mathis is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.

Mathis himself also weighed in via a statement on Twitter:

It is difficult for me to address the circumstances surrounding this suspension because they involve very personal medical information, but it is very important to me that my fans, particularly young people, understand what did and did not occur. 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. I hope that my fans will understand the unique circumstances involved here and continue to know that I am a man of integrity who would never intentionally circumvent the performance enhancing substance policy agreed to by the NFL and my union.

The incredible blessing of this very upsetting situation is that, after I took the medication very briefly at the end of last season, we learned that my wife is expecting a baby. We are thrilled that we will be welcoming a new member in several months, but I apologize to my teammates, coaches and Colts fans that I will not be able to contribute to my team for the first four weeks of the 2014 season. I will work extremely hard during that time to stay in top football shape and will be prepared to contribute immediately upon my return.