Since Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off the LSU Tigers football team last week, speculation about his future plans has run rampant. As many as 20 schools have reportedly contacted LSU for permission to speak with Mathieu, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be playing football for any of them this fall – FOX 8 News in New Orleans is reporting that Mathieu will remain in a drug treatment facility “for the near future.”
FOX 8′s Jen Hale reports that Mathieu’s father, Tyrone, told the news station that his son has been at the Right Step recovery center in Houston since the beginning of this week, confirming the widespread rumors that Mathieu’s dismissal from the LSU football team was drug-related.
Mathieu, known as “the Honey Badger,” was suspended for one game in the middle of the 2011 season, reportedly for testing positive for synthetic marijuana, though the school never confirmed the reason for the suspension.
In his press conference announcing Mathieu’s dismissal, LSU Coach Les Miles would only say that it was for violating team and school policy. It seems unlikely that Miles saw rehab in his former player’s future, initially saying he’d be surprised if Mathieu didn’t pursue a transfer to play football elsewhere this season. Miles has repeatedly expressed his support for Mathieu, whatever his future plans, and referred to him as “a quality guy.”
The situation became more peculiar this week amid reports that Mathieu wanted to pay his own way at LSU this year and return to the football program after this season. Miles didn’t deny that as a possibility, while telling reporters on Tuesday that he is “rooting” for Mathieu.
The report that Mathieu is currently receiving treatment for drug use sheds some light on the reasons behind Mathieu’s shocking dismissal and his reluctance to transfer immediately.
In the same situation, many players might have put their football careers first and already be immersed in fall workouts at a new school, but according to Tyrone Mathieu, the Honey Badger has decided to get his life together first and focus on football second.
FOX News 8 said father and son agree: “Until he conquers his demons, he won’t be successful at his future endeavors, wherever they unfold.”
Helping Mathieu conquer those demons is former NBA player and coach John Lucas. Lucas, the first overall pick in the 1976 NBA draft, spent 14 years in the league but battled cocaine and alcohol addictions. After he went through rehab, Lucas became active in helping other athletes struggling to overcome their addictions. He is reportedly mentoring Mathieu daily.
People were quick to jump on Mathieu for ruining his shot, or at least making his NFL future less assured, when he got the boot from LSU for yet another failed drug test.
If he has a substance abuse problem though, it could be the best thing that ever happened to him.
A one-game suspension wasn’t enough. Whatever counseling LSU offers for players who fail drug tests didn’t work. But perhaps being kicked off the team, being forced to look at everything he stood to lose, was the wake-up call Tyrann Mathieu needed to decide to get help.
Better to do it now before he landed in the NFL with even more fame and even more money with which to destroy himself. Better to do it now, before it’s too late.