Tyrann Mathieu Is a Great Player on the Field but a Lousy Teammate off It

Brian KinelCorrespondent IIIAugust 14, 2012

Tyrann Mathieu
Tyrann MathieuChris Graythen/Getty Images

Tyrann Mathieu’s on-field skills earned him a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist as a true sophomore. His off-field decisions earned him an in-season suspension from the crucial Auburn game last year and now dismissal from the team this year.

Is Mathieu wasting his talent and ruining his future? No, he’s only screwing his teammates.

Mathieu demonstrated complete selfishness last year by getting suspended for failing a drug test in the middle of the season—a season that saw LSU’s championship hopes culminate in a BCS Championship Game loss to Alabama.

The test was reportedly for synthetic marijuana, which is running rampant on college campuses. So, a lot of college kids use it. Tyrann Mathieu is not a lot of college kids. While he’s earned the scholarship LSU has given him, it comes with responsibilities. Responsibilities to the university and to his team.

Responsibility No. 1 is to remain eligible to play football, which is the reason he was given a free college education and opportunity for a professional career.

Responsibility No. 2 is to his teammates. I don’t know how he could have gotten suspended in the middle of a season that he and his teammates were fighting for an SEC and BCS Championship. How did he look them in the eye?


I know about Mathieu's rough upbringing. That doesn’t excuse his poor decision-making. And it certainly doesn’t excuse his letting his teammates down. Twice.

Mathieu was part of something bigger than him and showed that his selfish pleasure was more important than helping the group he was a part of to succeed.

I know I’m being hard on Tyrann. If indeed he has an addiction problem, I certainly hope he gets help and recovers, but he’s demonstrating an attitude that concerns me greatly about some young people.

Many lack the ability to look at anything beyond themselves. When I was in college, I was part of a group that started a local chapter of a national fraternity from scratch. We truly had a sense of it being bigger than us individually. Even as 19/20-year-old idiots, we were very conscious that our actions reflected on the fraternity and not just on us, and we cared about each other.

Like teammates should.

Don’t fret that Mathieu has ruined his future. The reality is the NFL won’t care that much about this issue. Mathieu will reportedly transfer to a lower level FCS school where he can play right away. He will be eligible for the 2013 NFL draft.  The NFL’s had a lot more troubling issues than a player failing a couple of drug tests.

Should Mathieu be labeled a bad person because of some poor decisions in his teen years? No, he certainly deserves a chance to redeem himself. But his track record right now is much less than sparkling. Again, it’s the impact of his decisions on others that bothers me.

Here’s hoping he does get his act together. It’ll start with caring about something more than himself.


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