An NFL assistant coach told USA Today about a conversation a team had with Mathieu during his pre-draft visit.
“During one visit, Mathieu was asked how many drug tests he failed before he was suspended in college,” wrote USA Today. “According to an assistant coach for the team, Mathieu responded: ‘I quit counting at 10. I really don't know.'”
Later in the day, Mathieu responded through LSU's sports information department.
According to the release, "Mathieu said the story does not accurately reflect the discussions that he has had while on official visits to various NFL organizations."
“It is irresponsible and shows a lack of integrity for anyone to disclose medical information regardless of how it was gathered,” Mathieu said. “I would expect that conversations regarding my drug testing history during the course of my medical treatment would be private. LSU has a strong drug testing program and LSU went to great lengths to help me in my treatment and recovery. I understand that many people enjoy reading about the negative side of sports, but to publish those second-hand comments without being given a chance to address that comment prior to the publication of the article is irresponsible.”
It should be noted, though, that Mathieu necessarily doesn't dispute what has been reported, namely that he said he stopped counting after 10 failed drug tests.
Mathieu said at the NFL Combine that he has been drug-free since October.
“I've been to rehab. I have counseling. I have a sponsor," he said in February. "I know what it's like to be humiliated. To go back down that road? Not a chance in my lifetime."
After having a good workout at the combine and then later at his pro day, he's most likely giving that same message to the 10 or so NFL teams that he has met with.
As his agent says, Mathieu is treating these visits like job interviews and trying to present himself as a professional. And if that means being completely honest about his past transgressions, that's what needs to happen.
But 10 failed drugs tests? Should we be looking at what the heck was going on at LSU?
"If he flunked 10 tests before they suspended him, it shows that he got no kind of help," the anonymous coach told USA Today.
“LSU has a strong substance abuse program that tries to identify and assist in the treatment and long term recovery process of drug use and abuse, and it is a program we would put up against any in the country,” said Joe Alleva, LSU's athletic director: “Once a substance abuse problem is identified, LSU is diligent in tracking those individuals over extended periods of time with frequent testing and engages them in meaningful opportunities for support through counseling and substance abuse treatment.”
Said LSU coach Les Miles at the time of Mathieu's dismissal from the team last August: “He gave us a lot of examples that we can learn from, and I think that he's a quality, quality guy who had a behavior issue and that's it.”
But what does this mean for Mathieu's future in the league?
NFLDraftScout.com ranks Mathieu as the 12th-best cornerback in the draft and projects him as a third-round pick.
Ten failed drug tests seems a lot. But if teams are just now hearing about Mathieu's reported revelation, that would be an even bigger surprise.