We all thought that it was dead, buried and gone. Now, its back. Tyrann Mathieu is un-retiring the name “Honey Badger”.
While many may consider this a non-issue, let us not forget what is in this name. The “Honey Badger” was a monster football player but a lousy college athlete. His repeated marijuana use led to his dismissal from the football team at LSU in the summer of 2012. He really seemed genuine when he apologized and even continued his course study at LSU the fall semester of 2012. Things seemed to be going great. Then, he was busted along with three other former LSU players for possession of marijuana. Assuming his chances with LSU were impossible for sure, he decided to enter the 2013 NFL draft.
He faced an uphill battle during the NFL draft process. Teams are more and more hesitant every year about choosing players with character issues. The Arizona Cardinals did their homework and decided he might just be worth the risk. It was after they drafted him in the third round, after his tear-laden and emotionally gripping speech, that we all thought that this might just be a new Tyrann Mathieu. He was even willing to put restrictions in his contract for the Cardinals about any return to his previous infamous life. The return of the “Honey Badger” just seems to put a damper on this new shiny image he means to have. Bob McManaman asks Mathieu whether the name is retired or not and writes about Mathieu’s reaction from fans meaning to brand him with the nickname again:
I don’t know. I tried to,” Mathieu said. “But it seems like it’s still on my shoulder. I’m just going to go with the flow and we’ll see what happens.
In the same conversation, McManaman describes how Mathieu’s teammates and coaches have raved about his work ethic and maturity. He talks about his teammates and all of the great cornerbacks around the league that give him support. Patrick Peterson, his former LSU teammate and mentor, has been instrumental in giving him a great new image. What’s important is that he keeps surrounding himself with these people and staying out of trouble. When you take a name like the “Honey Badger” up again, you better mean to remind people of the good things that name brought, instead of the bad. I’m not saying it can’t be done, Adam “Pacman” Jones has done a great job to distance the bad memories of his former “Pacman” lifestyle.
I just hope, for his and the Cardinal’s sakes, that he brings that same intensity and ball-hawking style he had at LSU to the NFL field. Mathieu was a special player to watch. It seemed like he was on fire every play. He hit hard and was a beautiful blitzer. A move to safety just might suit his skills better and a change of position might help him keep from looking in the backfield too much. I just hope, for his sake, he stays in the news purely in a football manner, keeps his nose clean, and stays away from the same trouble the “Honey Badger”