GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tyrann Mathieu has heard his name pronounced a countless number of ways, most of which are technically incorrect.
“I think everybody just kind of keeps it simple and calls me ‘Ty,'” he said Tuesday. “That’s the simplest way to do it.”
A third round pick by the Arizona Cardinals out of LSU last April, Mathieu appears well on his way to erasing any doubts about how to pronounce his name, as well as about his ability to play football.
It’s been a long and winding road.
A Heisman Trophy candidate as recently as 2011, Mathieu missed the entire 2012 campaign after being dismissed by head coach Les Miles due to multiple drug-related incidents. His football career on the ropes, the “Honey Badger” worked hard to rebuild his life and image, and has since found a new home and outlook in the Valley of the Sun.
Slated to start in Saturday’s preseason matchup with the Dallas Cowboys due to an injury to starting safety Rashad Johnson, Mathieu admitted he could not have fathomed being in this situation just a few months ago.
“I think it’s just my opportunity to be there for my teammates,” he said.
The chance is there, thanks in no small part to Mathieu’s teammates being there for him.
Having a built-in support system with former college teammate Patrick Peterson already on the roster, the 21-year-old has no shortage of people in the locker room who are there to help him, both on the field and off.
It’s why Mathieu’s head coach is not worried about his rookie once the structure of training camp is removed.
“I think the guys are going to take care of that,” Bruce Arians said. “He’s got an unbelievable support system within the team right now; they want him to succeed.”
Up to this point, Mathieu has done exactly that. One of the constants of this year’s training camp has been Number 32 being all over the field making plays, and that translated to the first preseason game last Friday when the rookie tallied a quarterback sack and broke up a pass.
It’s all part of the process for Mathieu, who is easily one of the most talented players on the field but fell to pick number 69 for a reason. A risk-reward selection if there ever was one, it seems as if more and more people find themselves not only interested in the player’s success, but rooting for it, too.
Mathieu hears the encouragement from the fans, saying he’s been told everything from “Good luck, I hope you stay clean,” to “I hope you come here and make plays like you did at LSU.”
“I think a lot of people have kind of jumped back on the bandwagon, so to say,” Mathieu added. “Everybody is starting to root for me again, which is definitely encouraging for me.”
Mathieu’s young career has been filled with a good many ups and downs, but through it all he’s managed to find his way onto an NFL field with a chance to start. He admittedly has much to learn about his new position — including the communication aspect, but there is time for that.
Should he continue down the current path, soon his name will be listed among the starters, likely to stay that way for many years to come.
And chances are, everyone will know how to pronounce it, too.