In many ways past and present, Tyrann Mathieu’s life mirrors the lyrics made famous by Joe Cocker in the early 80’s.
“Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends”
When the Arizona Cardinals selected the former Heisman Trophy finalist turned LSU fallen star in the third round last spring they knew there would be highs and lows. For general manager Steve Keim, head coach Bruce Arians and the rest of the Red Birds’ brain trust the risk was worth the potential reward.
So far, their instincts have proven accurate as “The Honeybadger” has flashed ball skills and instincts throughout training camp and the pre-season far beyond a 21-year old rookie still learning the NFL ropes.
The Cards and Mathieu know the slope can be slippery for professional athletes, especially one’s with troubled pasts.
“Tyrann is also from New Orleans. Drafted in the third round. Kinda familiar [to] a guy named Aeneas Williams.”
Fortunately for Mathieu there has been plenty of support, both inside and out of the nest.
College teammate and Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson took him under his wing after training Mathieu prior to the draft. Peterson’s family even housed Mathieu after he was kicked off LSU’s team in August of 2012.
Peterson isn’t the only legendary Cardinal cornerback offering support and stability.
Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist and one of the greatest and, equally important, most respected players in franchise history, Aeneas Williams has been mentoring Mathieu through the transition.
“We have been in communication, periodically,” Williams told Pros2Preps.com in a recent phone interview. “I’ve had conversations with his parents, as well. We’ve text each other before.”
Coincidentally, there is a common connection between the two.
“History has repeated itself…if you noticed,” Williams told Pros2Preps.com in a recent phone interview. “Tyrann is also from New Orleans. Drafted in the third round. Kinda familiar [to] a guy named Aeneas Williams [laughing].”
To this point Mathieu has been a sponge. Surrounding himself with positive role models and staying clear of the distractions. He credits Williams for providing vision and support.
“Aeneas is a great friend,” he told Pros2Preps.com. “He’s a great mentor. He’s always been a helping hand. He’s always been someone I can call.”
Williams believes Mathieu could win Defensive Rookie of the Year as some have predicted but says the life lessons he’s been taught and hurdles he’s already overcome will go much further than awards on the field.
“Tyrann has not given up,” Williams explained. “Tyrann has made the adjustments and set himself up to have this opportunity. [He] will be fine.”
For now only time will tell.