ANDERSON, Ind. — The National Football League is supposed to be like that 2007 Coen brothers movie No Country for Old Men.
But the Indianapolis Colts are willing to make exceptions. The NFL’s oldest team last year with an average age of 27.17 years is still rather “seasoned” as they sweat through training camp at Anderson University.
Everyone is aware ageless kicker Adam Vinatieri is the league’s oldest player at 43. Then there’s outside linebacker Robert Mathis and safety Mike Adams at 35. Running back Frank Gore and outside linebacker Trent Cole check in at 33.
Inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, at 32, assured Tuesday he’s not yet ready to join the “old folks home.”
“We’re trying to set a different tone,” he said. “The guys over 30 here, we can still play, we still love the game, we’re still passionate about it and we can still run with anyone that you put in front of us, whether you’re 22 or 32.
“We have some solid vets that’s been doing it for a long time. It’s just a pleasure to be on the field with them. (But) I’m not in that senior citizens club just yet.”
When quarterback Andrew Luck was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, the Colts’ average age was 26.02 years, which ranked 15th. It rose to 26.55 years (24th), then 26.66 years (29th) before climbing to the oldest distinction a year ago.
The “more experienced” guys who have stuck around are no slouch. Vinatieri is a four-time Super Bowl winner who most consider a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, if he ever retires. Mathis is the Colts’ all-time sack leader with 118. Adams was selected for the first two Pro Bowls of his career in the past two years.
Adams jokes he’s 25.
“He plays like he’s a 20 year old,” Jackson said. “He’s always young and fun and keeping guys laughing around the building.”
Cole says of Adams, “At that position, that usually doesn’t happen, but he’s an awesome player.”
Cole, like Mathis and Adams, is entering the final year of his contract. He had three sacks in his first season with the Colts.
“You hear a lot of people say, ‘Oh, these guys are old, the ones over 30,’” Cole said. “No. I think we’re special people. We’re blessed to be able to keep going further on in our career than some other guys who are retired.
“We don’t think about it. We just keep playing until when the good Lord says it’s time to stop, you know what I’m saying, we’ll know it’s time to stop.”
What’s unusual is how Cole, who has 88.5 sacks, spoke of how for many of his 10 years in Philadelphia, he loved watching Mathis play. Cole says it’s an honor to play with the six-time Pro Bowl pass rusher.
Mathis admits to working out the kinks in his body during camp, but from offseason training activities until now, the 14th-year pro has adamantly expressed confidence in his ability to play at a high level.
Does he still got it?
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “Stay tuned.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.