Five years ago, Tyrann Mathieu went to the NFL scouting combine on a mission. He spent his few days in Indianapolis in February 2013 trying to rehabilitate his image with NFL teams. He had to explain himself. Explain why he was kicked off LSU's football team. Explain why he smoked so much marijuana. Explain why he was arrested. Explain why he was worth drafting after spending a year out of football. The questions were abundant. One by one, Mathieu answered them. After the Arizona Cardinals drafted him in the third round (No. 69 overall) that year -- after five teams passed over him once, 16 teams passed over him twice -- and 10 teams skipped by him three times, Mathieu kept answering them, both on and off the field. Five years later, Mathieu has become an example of why people give second chances. He's stayed out of trouble. He's signed a mega contract extension worth up to $62.5 million over five years. He's become a household name in the NFL -- by some accounts a bona fide superstar. But if there was one example of how far Mathieu has come, it happened in September of last year. That's when the LSU Board of Supervisors approved a name change for the Tigers' football players lounge to the "Mathieu Players' Lounge at Football Operations" after a $1 million donation by Mathieu. Seeing his name on the lounge will be "humbling," Mathieu said, and will make him feel like "one of those old, rich dudes." "I'm still in awe about that," said Del Lee-Collins, Mathieu's defensive backs coach at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans and a close confidant. "Nothing ceases to amaze me with him. I never would've imagined it. I said things to coaches like, ‘He's going to be a Heisman candidate.' But I would never had imagined that he would have his own legacy on that campus. "When you think about it, how great is that, that you can play for a university -- and only play two years -- and have trouble and get kicked off of the team, and you can still go back and donate for the betterment of the university and football program? I applauded him for a long time for that." On a chilly December 2017 winter night in Phoenix, five years ago seemed like a different lifetime.
Tyrann Mathieu has come a long way in five years
ESPN | Feb 25