Mathis and Muir – a former defensive lineman who played 40 games for the Colts between 2008 and 2011 – founded Gridiron Gang in 2018 with the aim of establishing the Midwest’s premier football development program.
“We felt that it was not properly coached in our respective positions,” said Mathis, “(while) we also teach the boys about life in the field versus out of the field and more of a mentoring aspect in our approach take training into account.
Mathis is happy to share the knowledge he has accumulated over 14 seasons with the Colts. Much of what he can bring to young players comes from his own experience as the all-time Sacks leader of the franchise. But he’s learned many lessons from his teammates – Peyton Manning, Jeff Saturday, Ryan Diem, and many others – that he passes on to those who work with Gridiron Gang.
Both Mathis and Muir learned everything from the art of passing noise to watching movies and weights from John Teerlinck, who was the Colts Defensive Line Coach from 2002 to 2011.
Since the Gridiron Gang was founded, based in Grand Park in Westfield, Mathis, Muir and seven other coaches have trained a number of young footballers in the greater Indianapolis area. Some great local players have caught on, like Carmels Cole Brevard (now at Penn State) and Beau Robbins (now at Indiana), Westfields Popeye Williams (oral in Louisville in class 2022) and Greenwoods Jovan Swann (who played college) ball in Stanford and Indiana and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens earlier this month).
Joe Strickland, a four-star untied defender for 2022 from Brebeuf High School in Indianapolis, also trained with Gridiron Gang.
“I would recommend Gridiron Gang to any elite player or defensive lineman,” Strickland wrote in a testimonial on the Gridiron Gang website. “The lesson you receive is very different from the great ones who did what you want to achieve.”
Gridiron Gang also trains many positions beyond the defensive line. For example: Mathis enjoys coaching quarterbacks and shares tips he learned from Manning on what a quarterback to look out for on a pass rusher.
However, Mathis and Muir wanted to expand their reach beyond the northern suburbs of Indianapolis, where Muir said families can usually afford the kind of workout offered by outfits like Gridiron Gang.
“Go down the street for 30-45 minutes, that’s not the case,” said Muir. “We just wanted to be able to offer the same to all of Indianapolis, all of Indiana, and eventually the entire Midwest. We just wanted to offer everything we do to everyone. Everyone should get a fair chance to get this training and this mentoring from people who did it. “
Mathis and Muir have lived in Indianapolis for a long time and know the area well. With their networking skills, contacts and connections, they were able to set up a scholarship program that offers athletes from underrepresented communities as well as those from military and civil service families the opportunity to train with Mathis, Muir, seven other trainers from the Gridiron Gang and various guest trainers.
To date, Gridiron Gang has raised $ 272,500 for its scholarship program, according to Phil Grove, a local entrepreneur and investor who works with and advises Mathis, Muir, and Gridiron Gang.
“These guys are changing the way young men live,” Grove said.
The scholarship program has become the main focus of Gridiron Gang, with Mathis and Muir opening their arms and making it known that “anyone can be involved,” Mathis said.
Gridiron Gang also works directly with a handful of high schools in the Indianapolis area, including Arsenal Tech and Lawrence North. Grant Nesbit, the director of operations for the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, partnered with Gridiron Gang to enable them to use Lawrence North facilities and train local high school players.
“It is not out of the realm of possibility that the next Robert Mathis is walking through the high school halls where that education could make a difference to him,” said Nesbit. “It can be enough to make the child accomplish more. And many of our children would otherwise not have this option. You just might never be able to approach that kind of expertise. ”
And Mathis, just like he did when he played with the Colts, gives everything he does to train these kids.
“Rob is very handy with them,” said Nesbit. “He’s not just – he’s out there doing it. He works up a sweat. The guy still looks like he can play for me.
“You can’t help but be inspired by watching him demonstrate the exercise. These children want to do better because they are watching one of the big ones. ”
But Mathis’ message to these children and everyone else he works with is about much, much more than just football.