When Mathis met the lifelong fans from Hammontonlast October, he and center Jason Kelce sparked a public relations firestorm by telling the two to take down a much different sign: one calling for Andy Reid's firing.
New to Philadelphia, it was a rough first impression for both Mathis and Kelce. They were branded as out-of-touch outsiders who embodied a divide between frustrated fans and a team off to a horrible start. Who were these new guys to tell loyal season-ticket holders to stuff it?
So when the Rodios lobbied for Mathis's return - posting a picture of their sign on Twitter - Kelce responded, "this is my favorite tweet of all time."
The change in perspective reflects Mathis's standing as one of the Eagles' most engaging and accessible personalities, as well as an important starter. He has given fans an e-mail address to write him, is easygoing and funny on Twitter, and this offseason held a lengthy online Q&A. (Actual topics included his toughest opponent and how he would handle a fight against a Tyrannosaurus rex.)
After the October dust-up over the sign, the Eagles won and the Rodios returned with a more favorable message. Mathis crossed Pattison Avenue to meet them, and posed for pictures, pretending to choke John, 48, for poor grammar (he had written "your welcome" instead of "you're).
"He was just a fun, good guy," said John Rodio, a landscaper whose family has had season tickets since the Eagles played at Franklin Field. Monday he paid Mathis the ultimate Philly fan compliment: "Down to earth, hard worker . . . I think he gets the fans here."
"They're just avid fans and they really have a passion for the Eagles and I totally respected that," Mathis said after signing a new contract to secure his future in Philadelphia. "It's just been a cool relationship from there."
He still exchanges text messages with the two.
Mathis is more outspoken and opinionated than many professional athletes. On Twitter he touches sharply on politics and issues around the team, as when he wrote that anyone who wanted Reid fired is "an idiot."
"We need a sarcastic font on the Internet," he said Monday.
As for his relationship with the Rodios, Mathis called it a "180" from where they began. That's not too different from Mathis's career, considering he arrived to the Eagles last year as a backup journeyman and just signed a $25 million deal.
"It seems that's the way things go for me," he said, "start terrible and end up great."
Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214, firstname.lastname@example.org or Follow on Twitter @JonathanTamari.