Les Miles has the third best team in college football, he’s not at all concerned with Tyrann Mathieu’s future in football. Miles spoke to the media about Mathieu for the first time since he was kicked off the team and dropped from his scholarship after failing a seventh drug test in a row. Despite the fact that Miles top concern isn’t the future of the one they call “Honeybadger”, he still wishes the trouble ex-star the best.
“I think he’s making some quality decisions for himself,” Miles said of Mathieu’s efforts to address personal matters and his return to school exclusively as a student. “My focus is about my team and preparing game week. … We certainly wish (Mathieu) the very best.”
It’s hard to believe that Miles is concerned about Mathieu given all the chances he’s apparently gotten, but at the same time you have to believe that deep down Miles wants to see Mathieu out on the field again. Not because Mathieu is a top defensive prospect and gives the Tigers an instant edge, but because at the end of the day this is a 20 year old kid who is already watching his life swirl the toilet bowl.
But Mathieu re-enrolling at LSU on his own dime and without the promise of ever playing for the Tigers again is a sign that he may be on the rise in terms of his character and he may be back on the right path — or at least heading there.
“(Returning) was a pretty easy decision for me,” Mathieu told WVUE-TV. “I had to come back and finish what I started. The team means a lot to me, the staff, the athletic department, the teachers I formed a relationship with. All of that played a role in my decision to come back and do it the right way this time.”
This has quickly stopped being a football story and in the words of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, it’s gotten real. As much as we want to ostracize Mathieu for his cocky attitude and his apparent rampant drug use, we must stop and hold a mirror to ourselves. Sure we can call Mathieu all the names under the sun and say enough is enough, the kid had enough chances.
But stop right there — the key word here is kid.
No he’s not a minor and yes he’d be doing big boy time if he gets pinched, but let’s not stray too far away from the fact that this is a a boy still trying to become a man. LSU is clearly not suffering from his absence and even if they do, that’s part of life. It’s not fair that Mathieu ruined things for himself with the Tigers but it’s not fair that we condemn a 20-year old kid who realizes he’s an idiot and is trying to better himself.
“I’m finished with that treatment phase and it went well,” Mathieu told the LSU Daily Reveille. “A lot of issues that I was dealing with, I felt like I got those things handled.”
This isn’t a washed up ex-NBA star, or an ex-MLB pitcher on crack. This isn’t a man who’s lived a life, learned lessons and still gone astray. This is a kid and lest we forget that. Mathieu is a human being first, student second, football star third.