Tyrann Mathieu Looking To Shed His Past To Move Forward
A former Heisman Trophy runner-up, the player known as “The Honey Badger” is trying to leave more than just his nickname behind as he repairs his reputation after drug use.
BY ZAC BOYER
INDIANAPOLIS – Tyrann Mathieu was woken up at 4 o’clock Sunday morning and was asked to take a drug test. Such is life for the former LSU star.
Nicknamed “The Honey Badger” for his fearless, aggressive play, Mathieu was kicked out of college before this past season, when he would have been a junior, because of his continued use of marijuana.
His return to the spotlight at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium was a chance for him to unveil his new persona – one free of drug use and one that referred to himself in the third person on seven occasions.
“Every day it’s a process,” Mathieu said. “I’m not saying that I’m totally there, but I am taking strides every day to be the best person that Tyrann can be.”
Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2011, was dismissed from the program on Aug. 10 after failing multiple drug tests. He briefly considered transferring to another school to continue his career, but ultimately decided to return to LSU as a student to get his life in order.
He was then arrested on Oct. 25 after drug paraphernalia was found in his apartment, and Mathieu said his last drug use was a day later before he chose to go to rehab.
“I thought my bottom was when I got kicked out of school, but I think when I got arrested in October that was a different bottom,” Mathieu said. “So, I decided to go to a rehab. This time the rehab was for Tyrann. I just wasn’t going to it for publicity or because my school told me to go. I actually wanted to get my problem corrected.”
Once considered an elite talent capable of being chosen in the first round, Mathieu is more likely to be a mid-round selection because of his issues. He told The Free Lance-Star he met with the Redskins on Saturday night, and he could still make an impact in the NFL as a nickel corner and a punt returner.
Though he hasn’t played in a game since the BCS National Championship against Alabama on Jan. 9, 2012, he believes his skills haven’t diminished given all the time away from the field.
“Even when I wasn’t playing this year, I was trying to perfect my craft and trying to be a better cover man and better technician,” Mathieu said. “It’s pretty difficult [having not played in a game], but at the end of the day, it’s still practice and it’s still drills and it’s still film work.”
Mathieu, who took questions for a little over 10 minutes, never avoided any questions about his past or his future. That’s the same approach he said he has taken, and will take, with any teams showing interest in him.
“I’m not totally asking them to trust me right now,” he said. “What I have asked is for them to give me an opportunity to play the game. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on it, especially without football. It’s really given me a different outlook on life and it’s just about being the right kind of person.”