‘Honey Badger’ Deserves 2nd Chance, But 1st He Needs To Show Accountability, Maturity
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Les Miles did the right thing by throwing Tyrann Mathieu off the LSU football team.
Having already been given a wakeup call at LSU, Mathieu hit the snooze button.
He was suspended 1 game last year, but was booted from the team Friday for what has been reported as substance abuse.
Given a 2nd chance in Baton Rouge, Mathieu simply messed up again. By all accounts he is a good kid with a bad habit.
Let’s hope that becomes a correctable error.
While the highly ranked Tigers’ season won’t go completely up in smoke with Matthieu’s eviction, his future pro career sure takes a hit.
No longer will he be the center of a national love affair like last year, when he rode big plays on defense and special teams into a surprise run toward the Heisman Trophy.
He finished 5th in the Heisman voting, thanks mainly to his story, catchy nickname and the Tigers’ success.
Nicknamed the Honey Badger, Mathieu was a great tale of a young man who came from nowhere to overachieve despite his smallish size (5-9, 175). He showed us just what hard work could do.
Now comes the hard part.
Friday evening he talked to McNeese State head football Coach Matt Viator and is believed to be considering the Cowboys as a place to resurrect his career and rehab his reputation.
It is important that if given the chance, Viator lets Mathieu join. It would be the right thing to do.
This is not just because of football. No question the Honey Badger makes the Cowboys better.
There were at least 3 games when Mathieu’s big plays turned the tide for LSU. First against Oregon, then with touchdown punt returns against Arkansas and Georgia when the Tiger offense had struggled early.
Without Mathieu, any 1 of those games could have been lost.
So his football skills are not in question, but this is more about the person.
As an educator, Viator has the ability to help turn young people’s lives around. That is more important than Xs and Os or wins and losses.
Too often that gets lost in the world of college athletics.
Last year, Viator took a chance and let local product Janzen Jackson join his team after the cornerback had been booted at Tennessee. Jackson played out the season without any problems and now is trying to make the New York Giants’ roster.
That was the right move then and letting Mathieu on the Cowboys would be the right move now.
Viator doesn’t want to become the Father Flanagan of college football, nor does he want to turn McNeese into some halfway house for troubled players.
Mathieu deserves a second chance and Lake Charles would be a perfect fit, a place where he can be out of the spotlight and forget about being the Honey Badger. He needs to work on just being Tyrann.
Don’t get me wrong, Viator must give Mathieu a clear Honey-do list, or at the least a Honey-don’t one.
The message must be clear, you have to be a part of the team, work hard and stay clean. The rest is up to Mathieu. Only he can make this work.
There is no doubt the road ahead for Mathieu is a rough one, but it is also clear.
Some tough love from LSU seemed appropriate, as does some open arms at McNeese.