The NFL has suspended Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis for four games, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN, for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. The suspension is without pay, and Mathis will be able to return on Sept. 29. He will miss two games against division rivals.
Indianapolis' first four weeks look like this: an away game against the Denver Broncos in Week 1, a home game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, an away game against the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3 and a home game against the Tennessee Titans in Week 4.
The Colts released a statement on the suspension:
"We have learned that Robert Mathis will be required to serve a four game suspension under the League's policy on prohibited substances," the statement reads, "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 has been a starter with the Colts since 2003 and is entering his 12th season in the NFL. In 2013, he had one of his best years yet, compiling 59 combined tackles, 19.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles. That sack total is the highest of his career, and the forced fumble total matches a career high.
Mathis released a statement on Friday, via EAG Sports Management, claiming that he was taking medication to increase his fertility to allow him and his wife to have a child.
"Like many families, my wife and I faced fertility challenges, and I sought medical assistance," Mathis said. "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."
Mathis said that he made a mistake in not double checking before he took the medication at the end of last season. He went on to say that the union is working with him to present all necessary medical records to the league "for consideration of discipline that does not include a suspension because of the unique facts of my case, but the Commissioner refused the request."
Mathis said he would "never intentionally circumvent the performance enhancing substance policy agreed to by the NFL and my union." In good news for the linebacker, he does say that his wife is now expecting a baby, and credits that to the medication he took. His statement closes with an apology to "my teammates, coaches and Colts fans" for the suspension and a promise to work hard going forward.