Among the more appealing aspects of the Indianapolis Colts is the regular-guy vibe the franchise seems to so effortlessly project.
Professional athletes on autumn Sunday afternoons who are family-oriented individuals willing to go out of their way to make a difference in their adopted community whether asked to or not.
Aside from quarterback Andrew Luck, eventual Hall of Fame receiver Reggie Wayne and team owner Jim Irsay, off-the-field anonymity is as common with these latest Colts as mouthpieces.
I’ve often said head coach Chuck Pagano could be standing in line at Lowe’s with a cart weighed down by cans of paint and a few plants and half the customers wouldn’t know who he was. Maybe more than half.
Pagano is head of the Everyman brigade. We here in small-market America think the world of him for it because, well, he wins.
Few members of Horseshoe Nation exemplify this better than six-time All-Pro selection Robert Mathis, a man of few words and otherworldly athletic talent.
I’ve seen Mathis recently at some Indiana Pacers playoffs games and would love to see him at more.
Not so he can be subjected to a few booze-emboldened windbags inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse ready to pounce. Rather, so he can experience the satisfaction of the city’s sports fans having his back.
Mathis erred badly by violating the NFL’s drug policy with his admitted use of Clomid, a fertility drug.
Now the player who last season recorded 19.5 quarterback sacks in leading Indy to the second round of the AFC playoffs must sit out the first four games of the 2014 regular season.
This means the opener at Denver — think Peyton Manning exhaled a massive sigh of relief? — a road test at Jacksonville and home matchups at Lucas Oil Stadium against Philadelphia and Tennessee.
Fortunately, the latter three are all winnable even without Mathis in uniform. He’ll finally be eligible to slip on his road No. 98 jersey Oct. 9 when the Colts travel to Houston.
Go ahead and envision Mathis chasing Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum or whoever is taking snaps for the Texans around the expansive interior of Reliant Stadium. Chances are good Fitzpatrick and Keenum have.
America likes to forgive its sports heroes. Call it payback for the hours of entertainment they provide whether in victory or defeat.
This isn’t to say Mathis wouldn’t be vilified if he played for some unforgiving big-market franchise. You’ll remember that Philadelphia Eagles fans once famously booed Santa Claus.
We’re not Philly.
That said, it would be interesting to watch Mathis seated courtside at Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Pacers and Miami.
Our so-called celebrities always appear on the big screen during the break between the third and fourth quarters with varying degrees of applause — the scale judging from Game 1 being Rik Smits (high) and Haywoode Workman (comparatively low).
The cameras would eventually focus on Mathis for a few seconds. And you just know the partisan crowd would cheer wildly.
Maybe then Robert Mathis would smile again.
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.