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Robert Mathis suspended first 4 games of 2014 NFL season

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The Colts will be without Robert Mathis for the first four games of the 2014 NFL season.

Andy Lyons

One of the best pass-rushers over the past decade has been Indianapolis Colts defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Mathis, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2013.

Many regard him as the best player on the Colts roster not named Andrew Luck, but they'll have to do without Mathis for the first four games of the 2014 season.

That's because he's been suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL's Performance Enhancing Drug policy.

The Cincinnati Bengals don't face the Colts until Week 7 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mathis has registered 69 sacks over the past six seasons, and he's amassed 111 over his 11-year NFL career.

Here is the statement released by Mathis on his suspension.

"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."