MOBILE, Ala. — Former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu is at the Senior Bowl attempting to repair his image and convince NFL teams that he has changed his ways.
The 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist was a spectator Monday, watching ex-teammate Lavar Edwards and the rest of the Senior Bowl’s South team practice. But Mathieu hopes to meet with interested NFL teams during his trip.
Mathieu knows he doesn’t have room for more missteps off the field and said he’ll understand if team officials react with skepticism.
“They have every right to do that,” he said. “I’m not really looking forward to people trusting me today or tomorrow. Trust takes time, especially when you’ve done a lot of things for people not to be able to trust you. It may take two years. It may take five years. It may take until I’m 30 years old for people to start trusting Tyrann again. But the truth is, I’m doing the right things and just looking forward to being a football player.”
Mathieu was dismissed from the team in August for failing a drug test. He was arrested in October along with three other former LSU players — including quarterback Jordan Jefferson — after police said they found marijuana at Mathieu’s apartment.
He said his NFL ambitions haven’t changed even if his days as the “Honey Badger” ended with his college career.
He has been training for the NFL combine in South Florida and was just in Arizona training with Patrick Peterson, a former LSU cornerback now with the Arizona Cardinals.
“I took a few days off from training just to come here and meet with a few coaches and just be back around football again,” he said.
Mathieu, who didn’t arrive with any meetings set up, said he knows his behavior will be scrutinized as much as his 40 time.
“This is my last shot,” he said. “You’ve got to learn when to do things and when not to do things, when to party and when not to party. Every day is football.
“That’s the biggest thing I got out of it. I’m just ready to live a football life.”
He said his goals haven’t changed even though his path to a football career has, and he still feels he’s a future Pro Bowler. Mathieu said the past few months have been “really just getting a grip on myself, personally, spiritually and emotionally.”
He knows the kids hovering behind a fence calling for the “Honey Badger” still think of him by that moniker, which became a nationwide sensation.
“I definitely want to do it the right way this time,” Mathieu said. “I think in my career at LSU, the Honey Badger kind of just came to an abrupt end. Hopefully I’m going to give these kids something to look forward to growing up.”
However he’s known, Mathieu said he had to make changes in lifestyle, starting with the people around him.
Now he has to convince NFL teams that he’s changed.