Tyrann Mathieu was one of college football's most exciting players before off-field troubles that included numerous failed drug tests derailed not only a promising finish to his career at LSU, but possibly any shot at the NFL. But in April, the Arizona Cardinals took a chance on Mathieu, drafting him in the third round.
And so far, he's avoided trouble.
Mathieu's no doubt heard the cautionary tales countless times from family, friends, coaches and teammates, but he said the recent NFL Rookie Symposium wasn't jut a mandatory exercise for all newcomers to the league, but something he needed.
"I didn't look at it redundant, I looked at it as more people trying to help me," he said according to the Cardinals website. "My process is a bit different than the rest of the rookies there. For me, it was an experience I needed. …
“For me, [the Symposium] was real educational, inspiring and one of those reality checks and I've had a few of those since I've become an Arizona Cardinal.”
Third-year Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson was Mathieu's teammate at LSU and considers the rookie a brother. Peterson's also been responsible for helping keep Mathieu on the straight and narrow. Last fall, Peterson made arrangements for Mathieu to live with Peterson's parents in Pompano Beach, Fla. The plan was to provide Mathieu with something he'd been lacking: a structured and stable environment. And so far, it seems to be working.
“For him to have another opportunity to do something he loves is unbelievable,” Peterson said back in May, via the Arizona Republic. “Going back seven months ago, he declared his dream was to play with me once again. He said that was definitely his dream, and his dream came true.”
For now, Mathieu is focused on football. Whether we'll ever get a glimpse of "Honey Badger" -- the nickname from his LSU playmaking days that he had dumped because it was also a time in his life that he'd like to put behind him -- remains up in the air.
“I don't know if he's going to come back this fall,” Mathieu said via the Akron Beacon-Journal. “I really don't know. But right now, I'm happy being Tyrann. Tyrann is a fun guy, and I'm just ready to play some ball.”
Mathieu concedes that "Honey Badger" could stand for something positive but he'd prefer to let his actions dictate that.
“I think so, but I think it's going to take some time, just because ‘Honey Badger' happened at such a bad time, a time where I wasn't making the best decisions,” he said. “So going forward, if I'm able to make the right decisions, able to be that role model for the kids, I think the ‘Honey Badger' can be a pretty positive person.”
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