Tyrann Mathieu: What the Honey Badger Must Do to Recover from LSU Dismissal

Joye PruittSenior Analyst IAugust 17, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 06:  Tyrann Mathieu #7 of the Louisiana State University Tigers talks to the media at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 6, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  LSU and Alabama will play in the BCS National Championship on January 9th.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The former LSU star.

It’s not a title that anyone expected to be using for Tyrann Mathieu until his name was called in the 2013 NFL draft, first round expectedly. Now, what was once a lit future at Louisiana State has become a moment of silence for a career that has seemingly plummeted where no college athlete wants to dwell.

Mathieu has been labeled a drug user at a stage in his career where character intrigues front offices and the lack thereof blinds them from the talent that lies underneath the struggles.

However, Mathieu can do a few things in the near future to ensure that his time over the next football season will result in a chance in the NFL and at a better overall personal image.

Admit and Accept Alleged Drug Abuse

Mathieu is already on the right path, as he is being mentored by former NBA star John Lucas and is attending rehab, according to what his father told WVUE-TV in New Orleans.

Already fast on the path to admitting the fact that he may have a problem after repeatedly failing drug tests over the past year as reported by USA Today’s Glenn Guilbeau, Mathieu is repairing his image by addressing it head on.

College athletes are consistently attributed with characteristics ranging from habitual insubordination to immaturity to ignorance by default. After it was publicly reported that he failed a drug test last season, Mathieu was labeled all of these things.

One of the best players on the field for Louisiana State immediately became the pariah, the scapegoat for all that was wrong with college athletics, especially with the tumultuous year NCAA football ethics experienced.

By checking into rehab and receiving guidance from Lucas, Mathieu is engaging all of those rumors of his “low character” head on by admitting his mistakes and correcting them in the proper manner. He and his family aren’t ignoring his transgressions and pushing forward at another school to pacify comments about his dismissal with another great season.

Mathieu is building from the ground up with his talent ever-blossoming and his mental and emotional strengths being enhanced.

All too often, the young men of NCAA football are thrust into spotlights and entertained in ways that only their imaginations could have expressed. NFL front offices are watching Mathieu every step of the way and how he manages to come out of this situation will dictate his future as a professional football player, but first as a man.

Delete Twitter

Oh, how Twitter has become the figurative 140-character monster hanging over a celebrity’s head during every interview, business or informal.

What is said on Twitter becomes an overshadowing presence for anyone who says the wrong thing at the wrong time, especially when it’s seen by the wrong people, namely the men who sign paychecks. Mathieu isn’t known for being a man of humble words on the social networking site, and a lot of players aren’t.

One of the most famed Twitter-heads in professional football is making waves for more than his flamboyant conversations with the media: Chad Johnson. Yet, those same words strike against him as his character and ability to be a team-guided player is questioned.

Mathieu doesn’t want to be that type of guy. Even though he exudes a certain air of confidence on the field, that swagger doesn’t need to be spoken, or typed.

Too often things are misunderstood and misconstrued on Twitter, and that is an unnecessary obstacle that Mathieu needs to alleviate. If he doesn’t delete his account, then keep his raw comments to a minimum. Once it is on the Internet, it is available for public consumption.

It will be chewed up and spit out accordingly.

Mathieu has seemingly gotten the message as before he was cut from the program, the former LSU standout told the media that he would be shying away from Twitter when LSU’s season started at the request of his head coach, Les Miles, according to AP Sports Writer Brett Martel.

''I respect Coach, and whatever decision he makes I go along with it,'' Mathieu said. ''There's a lot of guys on this team who are deserving of the spotlight. I don't have to be in it all the time and I'm fine with that.

''Everything's going well right now and I've just got to watch what I put on Twitter,'' he added.

Work and Work Harder

The last thing that needs to be on anyone’s mind when Mathieu steps back into the football picture is whether his work ethic is up to par. Those are questions that should be aptly answered by silence and performance.

The Honey Badger is a showman and there’s no doubt about that. But his passion for the game and what sparks such a small frame can create in four quarters are really what interests NFL scouts about Mathieu. He isn’t the biggest man in the secondary, nor is he the quickest.

What Mathieu does have is the primal instincts of a ball-swiping corner that with perfected technique could make ripples professionally. His commitment to the hustle that football is on a daily basis is what will set him apart from the perception growing around him.

Mathieu doesn’t need to sit back and let the cookie crumble as it may.

Harley Davidson said, “When writing the story of your life, don’t let someone else hold the pen.”

The pen rests in Mathieu’s hands as he is on a pivotal journey that will affect the rest of his life. No one needs to have control of those strokes. Working towards becoming a better person will allow him to work equally as hard in becoming a more dominant football player.

A lot of the things that Mathieu can do are to shine a light on his heightening character and on his growth as a man. It can’t just be a publicity ploy, however.

It has to be real, because the people spending their money on him are developing better judgment as to what’s real and what’s staged. Tyrann Mathieu is a great kid. He just needs time to grow up.

Which one of us didn’t?