That’s it. Thanks for playing.
The 2011 Heisman finalist was the face of Tiger nation. A defensive star that became a household name for his aggressive and flashy play that had no regard for consequences. At 5’9″ 175 pounds Mathieu’s apparent indifference toward mixing it up with much larger SEC talent earned him the nickname Honey Badger. As the saying goes, the honey badger don’t care.
Neither did Mathieu.
What exactly Mathieu did is up for speculation, as head coach Les Miles did not give specifics during his press conference announcing the suspension. Last season as a sophomore Mathieu was suspended a game for failing a drug test. If drugs are indeed the reasoning behind the corner’s dismissal, than it is safe to assume the reasoning ability possessed by the football player, is much more in line with that of the animal.
There will be quite a bit of piling on the former LSU star in the next few weeks. How the Tigers fare in the competitive SEC West will also be a point of interest, now that their best defender is no longer roaming the secondary. While it is easy to point fingers at the young man, there is a more important lesson to the story.
I assume that Mathieu has a dream of one day playing in the NFL. That dream is still very much alive but it is all up to him. His draft stock will likely take a hit. Missing a hug with Roger Goodell aside, there is still plenty to be positive about for the corner.
With two more years of eligibility, Mathieu can transfer to a FCS program and play this season, or sit a year and stay in the FBS ranks. Either way there is plenty of time to once again prove himself not just as an exceptional player, but to show he can follow the rules before draft day comes around.
On the field, Mathieu was expected to play with reckless abandon just like the African varmint he was named after. Off the field he was charged with following the rules. One does not have to follow sports long to find many examples of athletes who fail to differentiate between the field and classroom mentality. Mathieu’s teammate last season Morris Claiborne could tell tell the difference, as he is now a professional football player.
The NFL is not an organization of angels, but it will have only so much patience for a headcase outside the lines. Hopefully today’s news gives Mathieu that much needed wake up call. All is not lost yet. This is not the final chapter in Mathieu’s football story. A good ending is still possible.
That’s strike two Tyrann. Time to care.