Before the 2013 NFL Draft, many teams had taken Tyrann Mathieu off their draft boards. Many TV pundits and sports journalists had written extensive pieces about the issues Mathieu had, and that if any team picked him, they would be essentially throwing their pick away. How could you blame the people that had these very pessimistic outlooks on the future of Tyrann Mathieu? Prior to LSU’s 2012 season, Mathieu was dismissed from the program after failing multiple drug tests. He then went to a Drug Rehabilitation Program, but was arrested on charges of Marijuana possession, just a few months later. Later that year, at the NFL Scouting Combine, Mathieu posted mediocre numbers, with only a 4.50 40 yard dash, and only doing 4 reps at 225 pounds. Combining his glaring lack of height (5 ft 9 in), landslide of off field issues, and average testing results, Mathieu seemed like an obvious stay-away in the draft. However, the Arizona Cardinals took a chance, but why? The answer is that Tyrann Mathieu is an incredible football player. At LSU, Tyrann Mathieu rightfully earned the nickname, “The Honey Badger” due to his tenacious play all across the field. As a Sophomore, Mathieu became a Heisman Trophy finalist, as he dominated the SEC, racking up 77 tackles, forcing 5 fumbles, recovering 4, having 2 interceptions, and 4 total touchdowns (2 on punt returns). Mathieu had a tremendous knack to always know where the football was, and had a fearless attitude to go up against any opponent. He truly had one of the greatest individual seasons any defense player has ever had in college (as a Sophomore!). To be honest, I was extremely skeptical of Mathieu’s potential ability to stay clean, and be a positive and consistent (mental and physical) NFL player.
Upon his arrival in Arizona, Mathieu has been nothing less than incredible, on and off the field. On the field, Tyrann has taken off right where he left off in college. Before tearing his ACL late last season, Mathieu picked up 80 tackles, 5 interceptions, a fumble recovery and a TD. Those stats don’t even do his production justice, as Mathieu quarterbacks the defense, and rates extremely highly in all advanced statistics. He provides an incredible energy and passion to the defense, constantly firing up his crowd and teammates, and intimidating the opposing offense. With that being said, it is obvious that Mathieu was elected to his first Pro Bowl, and named as the first-team All-Pro Safety. Off the field, Mathieu has been marvelous. An ever positive influence to his teammates, Mathieu has found himself in the perfect situation, with a coach he bonds with (Bruce Arians, sorry Les Miles), and teammates he is eager to support. A player once written off as an unfixable degenerate druggie, has now gained the respect of the entire league, and has become a coach, fan, and player favorite. People can change for the better, just look at Tyrann Mathieu, because his story is a fabulous example of what can happen to somebody, if they receive respect, care and love. The story of Tyrann Mathieu is awesome.