Tyrann Mathieu has given up his nickname, and he says, his past

Posted Friday, Apr. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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For all the instincts he has on the field, Tyrann Mathieu has trouble making the right decisions off the field. Mathieu was kicked out of LSU for multiple failed drug tests.

He now is seeking a second chance in the NFL.

“I want them to be able to trust me,” Mathieu said. “I hold myself accountable for everything I’ve done, and this past year, it’s been tough. At the end of the day, I want them to know that I’m a football player. I want to be a great teammate, and I want to be the same leader on the field that I know I can be off the field.”

LSU dismissed Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011, on Aug. 10. He was arrested Oct. 25 and charged with simple possession of marijuana. Mathieu said Oct. 26 is the last day he had used marijuana.

Mathieu has been to rehab. He’s been to counseling. He has a sponsor. He has changed his friends. He has dropped his nickname.

The cornerback formerly known as Honey Badger is leaning on former NBA player John Lucas, who has battled drug addiction and now runs his own rehabilitation program . Mathieu also relies on NFL cornerbacks Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis, Morris Claiborne and Corey Webster to help keep him on the straight and narrow.

Mathieu claims “honesty” is his best friend and promises never to stray again.

“Because I’ve been through it,” Mathieu said. “I know what it’s like not to have football. I know what it’s like not to be the center of attention, and I know what it’s like to be humiliated. To go back down that road? Nah. Not a chance in this world. Not a chance in my lifetime again. Every day it’s a process. I’m not saying that I’m totally there, but I am taking strides every day to be the best person that Tyrann can be.”

Mathieu has other marks against him. He is small, at 5-foot-9, 186 pounds, and he is quicker than he is fast (4.50), both of which could get him beat in the NFL.

“My gut tells me he’s a better football player than he is an athlete,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “He’s small … and he doesn’t run real well. So I think teams are going to look at him as kind of a nickel back and a kick returner.”

Mathieu will get a chance. Some team will draft him, probably around the fourth round. He believes he can again be the player he was in 2011, when he led LSU with 70 tackles, forced six fumbles, recovered three and ranked second in the nation with a 16.2-yard punt return average.

“Once I get back to playing football, I’m still going to make those big-time plays and be that excitement for my team,” Mathieu said.

Charean Williams 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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