New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis was honored on Thursday as the first winner of the Deacon Jones Award, which the NFL will give annually to the league leader in quarterback sacks.
Mathis had a career-high 19 1/2 sacks for the AFC South-champion Colts, a half-sack more than St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn.
"Deacon Jones is the creator of the sack so to be able to win the first award in his honor is an honor," Mathis said in a statement. "I'm very proud that I was able to win it and I thank my teammates, mainly the (defensive line), who were very instrumental in helping me get to the quarterback. It's a unit award, more so than an individual award."
Mathis had five of his sacks in December and was named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Month.
Jones was a Hall of Fame defensive end who played most of his 14 NFL seasons for the Los Angeles Rams and is credited with coining the term "sack." The NFL didn't begin tracking the stat until 1982, eight years after Jones played his last game. Jones died in June at the age of 74.