MOBILE, ALA. —
Cornerback Tyrann Mathieu had one of the coolest nicknames in sports while at LSU — the “Honey Badger,” which is classified as an animal that “has few natural predators because of its thick skin and ferocious defensive abilities.”
But the “Honey Badger” couldn’t stay out of trouble at LSU. He failed too many drug tests and got kicked off the team in August despite his electric talent. Two months later, he and three former teammates were arrested on charges of marijuana possession.
Now, hoping to convince NFL teams that he has learned from his mistakes and that he’s worth the risk, the man with the golden-blonde Mohawk at the Senior Bowl wants it known:
“I’m not the Honey Badger right now,” said Mathieu, who isn’t playing in the all-star game but is on hand to speak with NFL officials and the media. “My career at LSU, being the Honey Badger, it just kind of came to an abrupt end. I’ll be the Honey Badger again, and I want to do it the right way this time.”
Mathieu, who turns 21 in May, isn’t hiding from his past this week in Mobile as he looks for a fresh start. He attended practices Monday and Tuesday, admitting to past mistakes with anyone who wanted to listen.
“It was tough, but I think it’s something I had to go through and something that made me stronger,” Mathieu said of his recent troubles. “I think it’s something that, looking forward, is going to further my success, because from this point on I can probably make wiser decisions.”
And NFL teams are listening to Mathieu, too. A source close to Mathieu said he has talked formally and informally with about 20 teams this week at the Senior Bowl, including the Dolphins — who sent their entire scouting department to interview him Monday night.
Despite his past troubles, the Dolphins certainly could use a player with Mathieu’s dynamic abilities. They need depth at cornerback — especially if free agent Sean Smith signs elsewhere — and could use a playmaker on defense and special teams. As a true sophomore in 2011, the diminutive Mathieu (5-feet-9, 180 pounds) was a consensus All-American, scoring two touchdowns on defense and two more on punt returns.