Mathieu an inspiration for many

Tyrann Mathieu, also known as the “Honey Badger,” dominated NCAA Football for the LSU Tigers two years ago. With his small stature of 5’9” and 180 pounds, he was undersized and seemingly overmatched in the world of Division I football. That, however, did not stop him from becoming one of the leaders in the NCAA in average punt return yards and being a Heisman Trophy Finalist. The latter being a great honor because, as a cornerback, he was being considered for an award almost entirely given to offensive players. Now, after having dominated the NCAA two years ago, Tyrann Mathieu has his sights set on his next goal to accomplish: being successful in the NFL. Yes, he is undersized, but with all of his success he is bound to be a first or second round draft pick.

Well, after Tyrann Mathieu’s stellar sophomore season in which he was a consensus All-American, the Honey Badger was dismissed from the LSU football program after repeatedly failing drug tests. And that’s when things began to go downhill from the public’s point of view. But Tyrann Mathieu had been buckling underneath the pressure long before it all came out. With his new celebrity-like fame, Mathieu quickly discovered that everything that comes with notoriety did not make life any easier. Put up for adoption by his mother early in life and separated from an incarcerated father, his parents quickly tried to reconcile and claim some credit for his accolades. They were only trying to reconcile because they smelled money in the air. So to escape all of this, and his the nickname that he did not even like, he turned to smoking marijuana. It quickly grew into a time-encompassing habit, with him missing classes and staying in his room for days at a time with the shades pulled down.

Soon after being dismissed from the LSU football program, Mathieu was arrested on drug charges and hit rock bottom. But as they say, once you’ve hit rock bottom, all you can do is go up. So that’s exactly what he did. After leaving LSU, Mathieu checked into a rehab facility in Texas. It is there that he realized that no, his drug habit was not a habit all, but an addiction. He then began to get his life sorted out, and even saw it as a challenge to get over his addiction of marijuana, which appealed to his extremely competitive nature.

Afterwards, Mathieu moved to Florida to get away from it all and isolate himself so he could focus on the NFL draft. He lived in a bare apartment that his agent had found for him, with Mathieu’s only company being his TV and meditative walks on the beach. He has recently had to change his cellphone number multiple times, to get away from the public eye. With multi-million deals on the line, Mathieu knows what is at stake. But is it the money that is driving him, or the desire to prove everyone wrong? Something tells me the latter. He is trying to prove to others that size doesn’t matter, that what he lacks in physical attributes, he makes up for in sheer will power. But most importantly of all, he is trying to prove to others that he can handle the pressure. There is a reason that he is called the Honey Badger. He is undersized, but he makes up for what he lacks by perseverance and guts. If he can get past it all and become successful in NFL, then Mathieu will truly live up to his nickname, on and off the field.

So leading up to the NFL draft on Thursday, April 25, all of the buzz is surrounding Tyrann Mathieu, and whether or not he has moved past his substance abuse. But more than just having moved on from his addiction, will be the stresses of the NFL with much more media attention that could eventually lead him to his old ways. I for one hope that Tyrann Mathieu lives up to his nickname and perseveres through it all, because he is said to be one of the nicest guys around, and don’t we want nice guys to finish first? Whatever happens, I’m happy that the media attention that has habitually surrounded Tebow throughout the past few off-seasons has packed up and left, and instead has been replaced with some story with some real substance, instead of perpetuating Tebowmania like so many seem to have been doing. It is so easy to support someone who is seemingly perfect like Tim Tebow, but what is truly heartwarming, is when someone like Tyrann Mathieu succeeds despite it all. That is what makes sports great, but even more than that; that is what makes life great.

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