By Jordan Raanan, Xfinity Sports
Tyrann Mathieu’s trying to outrun his past. In the process, he’s attempting to leave behind his nickname.
In his eyes, the Honey Badger no longer exists. Instead he’s just DB No. 23 at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis after a season without football, a drug arrest and subsequent counseling and sobriety.
“I have [left the Honey Badger nickname behind],” Mathieu said Sunday at the Combine. “A lot of people haven’t. That’s OK because I’m Tyrann right now. If the Honey Badger sticks, it sticks. But right now it feels good being Tyrann Mathieu.”
Tyrann Mathieu, former LSU defensive back and Heisman trophy candidate, remembers Oct. 23, 2012, the last time he took an illegal narcotic. He claims it was the true rock bottom after spending years reading and believing all the hype.
“I thought my bottom was when I got kicked out of school,” Mathieu said. “I think when I got arrested in October that was a different bottom. So I decided to go to rehab and this time the rehab was for Tyrann. It wasn’t for publicity or because my school told me to go.”
Mathieu is trying to prove to NFL teams they can trust him, that he’s turned around his life. He plans to do so by running in the 4.4 range and being as forthright as possible.
“My best friend right now is honesty,” said Mathieu, who is expected to be taken somewhere in the middle rounds either as a safety or cornerback.
In his line of work though, honesty can sometimes be awkward, especially in media sessions. That led to maybe the most unusual and eye-opening interview at the Combine. Mathieu even outdid Manti Te’o in that regard.
It’s not often you hear a player desperately trying to land a job say he didn’t expect the teams to totally trust him. Or that he wasn’t totally focused on football and instead concentrated on himself. But that’s what Mathieu said.
The player formerly known as Honey Badger admitted he blew “millions” by getting kicked out of LSU and missing a year of football. He insists the same problems will not reoccur at his next stop.
“To go back down that road, not a chance in the world,” Mathieu said. “Not a chance in my lifetime.”