Recently, Tyrann Mathieu and the Arizona Cardinals have been accused of having a spy in their locker room. The Cardinals have blocked access to their dressing room from the media. This was done to keep their confidence in the player, but it’s caused a lot of chatter. Mathieu is already a divisive figure in the Arizona locker room, and his injury history makes him a target for criticism. Adding to the pressure on Mathieu, he’s recently become a focal point of Arizona’s media.
On Monday, Tyrann Mathieu was suspended by the NFL for one year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. In order to understand the context of this suspension, it is important to first understand the context of Mathieu’s career. Mathieu was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 with the 59th overall pick out of LSU. He was the first player ever selected in the 2013 draft that was never invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
Deion Sanders, as most of you know, is one of the greatest NFL players in recent memory. He was a four-time Super Bowl champion and a Super Bowl MVP. He was also the NFL’s first million dollar cornerback and arguably the league’s greatest player. There is one thing, however, that Deion Sanders did better than some of the league’s other legends: he was a phenomenal defensive back.
Although he doesn’t make the news as often as Patrick Mahomes, Tyrann Mathieu has played a big role in the Kansas City Chiefs’ recent success. The linebacker has won a Super Bowl ring since replacing Eric Berry as second man and is ready for another big payday, whether he plays at Arrowhead Stadium or leaves for elsewhere after the 2021 season.
While all NFL players have had a lot of help on their way to the pros, Mathieu owes a big thanks to a living football legend. Had it not been for Deion Saunders, the defender’s career could have looked very different.
Tyrann Mathieu looked like he was going to be a star at LSU, but after his sophomore season he started having problems
When a top high school talent comes to LSU, it usually means they are on their way to football stardom. In the beginning Mathieu seemed to follow exactly this pattern.
Although he started to make a name for himself in his first year, the defender only really came into his own in his second year. In the 2011 campaign, he threw 77 interceptions, forced four fumbles and threw two interceptions. This performance earned him the nickname Honey Badger and made him a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Although Mathieu did not win this honorable title, he did receive the Chuck Bednarik Award as the best defensive player in college football.
As a junior, the defender looked to build on that success, but he did not play a single game for the Tigers. As reported in a 2012 ESPN article, LSU suspended Mathieu from the football program for violating the school’s drug and alcohol policy. He then went through a rehab program and returned to college, but never returned to the football team.
Instead, he entered the 2013 NFL Draft.
When I was expelled and suspended from school, he was one of the first to support me, and also publicly he really encouraged me, Tyrann Mathieu said of Deion Sanders. https://t.co/XuYW9wQfUQ
– Clarion Ledger (@clarionledger) 20. June 2021
Judging by the way his studies ended at LSU, Mathieu’s young football career could have been shattered. At his lowest point, however, he was helped by a living NFL legend: Deion Sanders.
Coach Prime came to me when I was fired from LSU, said Mathieu Alexis Nicole Neely of HBCU Gameday. It was one of the hardest moments of my life: I got the Heisman, I won the national championship and then it was all taken away. A lot of people turned their backs on me.
While it’s not clear how close he came to throwing in the towel, quotes from Mathieu suggest he might have left the arcade for good if Saunders hadn’t backed him.
When Coach Prime came in and believed in me – the greatest cornerback in history – that I could play at the next level, that was enough to get me going, the defender said.
Mathieu made similar comments about Langston Newsom of the Clarion Ledger. When I was expelled and suspended from school, he was one of the first people to support me – and in public – [he] really encouraged me, says the confident woman. Our relationship has been going on for over ten years. I was lucky to have a man like him in my life.
As Mathieu noted, Sanders publicly praised him before the 2013 NFL Draft, and when the big day came, the linebacker went in the third round to the Arizona Cardinals. Since then, he has continued to play at a professional level and has earned over $58 million over the years. Barring injury or unforeseen issues, Mathieu’s NFL earnings will exceed $73 million in the 2021 season and he will be ready to sign a new contract after that.
Deion Sanders (left) and Tyrann Mathieu (right) have been close since the latter’s time at LSU. | Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images and Christian Petersen/Getty Images
While we can’t say for sure how things would have gone without Primetime’s support, it’s safe to assume Mathieu had the support of the NFL legend. Although he had the talent to break through to the pros, the relationship between Honey Badger and Sanders seemed to give him confidence. Deion’s recommendation could also move the defender up a few spots and add a few extra pounds to his rookie contract.
Although Mathieu has since turned professional, he and Saunders still have a good relationship. For example, the defensive star received a congratulatory phone call from Primetime after the Chiefs’ team won the 2019 AFC Championship.
I just tweeted about you before the game. I told them if anyone has anything to say about you, put your face on the screen and let me hit them, because I’m not playing against you, man, Sanders said in a video posted on Chiefs.com. Buddy, I think of you as a father, as a big brother, as an uncle.
As confident as they may seem, professional athletes can sometimes benefit from the support of someone close to them.
For a quarterback like Tyrann Mathieu, the support of people like Deion Sanders should make you feel like you can do anything….. including making over $50 million as an NFL star.
Financial data courtesy of Spotrac
In the United States, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at 1-800-662-4357.
COMPARED TO: Dante Hall thinks Kansas City Chiefs’ offseason led to success I hope we come back for the big ball
In 2008, Tyrann Mathieu, a safety from LSU, entered the draft. During his first year in college, he recorded a team-leading three interceptions and returned a missed field goal for a touchdown. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2010 draft. After a promising rookie year, where he recorded three interceptions and a forced fumble, the Cardinals traded Mathieu to the Oakland Raiders for a second round pick.. Read more about tyrann mathieu weight and let us know what you think.
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