Losing rookie defensive back Tyrann Mathieu for the rest of the season was a big blow to the team and also for fans, who have become quite attached to the young star. We know that he has a long road ahead with surgery to repair both the ACL and LCL in his left knee next week. After that, it will be months of work to get back on the field healthy and effective.
Now, with the troubled past he has with drugs, this naturally has raised the question whether or not there is concern with Mathieu going back to bad habits. In fact, a local morning radio show discussed it and the hosts said that they were worried because of how Mathieu's love for football was a driving factor for his recovery and change. Now he will have a football void and a lot of extra time...will he relapse?
Mathieu downplayed it, as you would expect him to, as cited in a story on the team's official website. Mathieu believes those issues are "in the bag."
Head coach Bruce Arians likewise showed no concern, saying he was "strong".
Now, this is nothing less than what you would expect to hear from player and organization. Yet I am not worried and do not believe it will be any concern at all.
First of all, he is still getting tested...a lot. And while there clearly is opportunity (Jerome Bettis said recently in an interview that he believes 75-80 percent of all NFL players smoke weed), Mathieu is not the crazy kid he was while at LSU.
If you recall, when Mathieu was drafted, there were numerous interviews with former teammates and coaches about him. One interview I recall with Les Miles said that the issue Mathieu had was that he is a people pleaser and he was hanging around with the wrong crowd. His wanting to be accepted and to make people around him happy led to stupid stuff.
He now no longer has that crowd. He is surrounded by professionals and coaches. His crowd will still be his teammates -- namely Patrick Peterson -- and it isn't like football is gone. He now has a singular moment and goal to look forward to and pursue -- getting back on the field.
So while it is certainly something to wonder because of his past, knowing his present situation will and should put any worries to rest.
He's not worried. The team is not concerned. We shouldn't be either.
We will see Tyrann Mathieu back on the field in 2014.
What should be the bigger concern is his progress on the field without an offseason program (see Griffin, Robert), rather than the fear that he would go back to smoking dope. But that is a story of speculation for another day.
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