Part of the appeal with Tyrann Mathieu is that his life has pretty much been an open book.
He does not shy away from his troubled past, nor does he hide the confidence he has in his future.
Entering his fourth NFL season, the defensive back’s issues with drugs seem to be a thing of the past, as he has been able to refocus himself in order to be a good football player and even better person.
It’s been less than four years since he was kicked off of the LSU football team due to violating team rules, but since then he has been named to the Pro Bowl, was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, has become the heart and soul of the Cardinals’ defense and become an advocate for, among other things, PETA.
From being branded with a scarlet letter to becoming a spokesperson and the face of an NFL franchise, Mathieu has certainly come a long way in a brief amount of time.
His story, at least its early parts, are somewhat similar to what Johnny Manziel is going through.
A former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, Manziel spent two seasons with the team before his conduct off the field simply became too much for them to tolerate. He was released by the team, and is currently a free agent without a team and with a future that is tenuous, at best.
This past week his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, gave the 23-year-old an ultimatum to get treatment for himself or else be dropped as a client.
Unless Manziel can turn things around, a once-promising career looks like it will end before it could even really begin.
While not a teammate nor personal friend of Manziel’s, Mathieu is aware of what has been going on with the struggling athlete. In February, he tweeted that Manziel should hit him up, adding, “It ain’t easy but it’s worth it bra!”
A couple months later, Mathieu still wants to help.
“I actually reached out to Johnny, and I would hope that he would reach back to me,” Mathieu told the Extra Point on Arizona Sports. “But for a guy in that situation, I would simply tell him that just as quick as you reach stardom, it can be taken away from you.
“It doesn’t matter if you come from a family of wealth or if you come from a family of poverty; we’re all human and we all make mistakes, and that’s OK. But the idea is to learn from your mistakes, continue to grow and continue to strive to be a better person.”
That’s precisely what Mathieu has done, and no doubt he would tell you he is not at all a finished product. Lately he’s been in the news for comments about what happened in New Orleans, where former Saints star Will Smith was shot and killed during a perceived road rage incident.
Mathieu, who grew up in the city, has made no secret of his desire to help improve things back home, using his influence as an athlete in a good way.
“I really want to target the unforunate kids, the unfortunate youth, the kids that parents don’t necessarily have the money to provide them to go to camps or to even go to a school like I went to in St. Augustine, a school that requires you to pay a tuition,” he said. “Those are things that we’re focusing on.
“The only reason I even spoke up about it was because, first of all, in order for us to make a change we have to say something about it, and then from there we have to form this solution, and then from there it’s action.”
Mathieu said he’s received some backlash from people in New Orleans — which puzzles him — but added the majority of the feedback has been positive.
“I’m going to do my best to try to inspire, give those kids hope and let those kids know hey man, no matter if you feel like you’re back’s against the wall, just never give up.”
You can listen to the entire Extra Point Podcast with Paige Dimakos and Erin Maloney by clicking here.
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