They say sports is an escape.
You could make the case both ways for Tyrann Mathieu.
As rapidly as “The Honeybadger” was thrust into the national spotlight bursting on the scene with his crazy hairdo and even crazier ball skills at LSU, he faded quickly into the backdrop after getting “faded” too many times in Baton Rouge.
From a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011, to being completely out of football a year later after being dismissed by LSU head coach Les Miles, Mathieu’s twisted journey took another turn Sunday afternoon in Glendale. The rookie free safety who has taken the NFL by storm (63 tackles rank second-best on the team, October NFC Rookie of the Month) fell to the turf after returning a free kick in the third quarter of Cards blowout win over the Rams Sunday in Glendale. Moments later a scene every player fears. A cart filled with trainers wheeled Mathieu into the tunnel. The injury comes a little more than three months after first-round pick Jonathan Cooper was lost for the season with a broken fibula.
Easily one of the more likable players on and off the field among teammates, Mathieu versatility stretched beyond defense. A key contributor on special teams he’s made an impact wherever he’s lined up on the field. Many experts believe his football instincts are light years ahead of his age.
A great season. An even greater success story. Gone. Just like that.
Monday the news got even worse when it was announced the third-round pick torn not only his left ACL but his LCL, as well. The injury will not only sideline Mathieu for the remainder of 2013 but head coach Bruce Arians said training camp and the beginning of ’14 is up in the air, as well.
“Prognosis is crazy,” Arians said. “This will be a long one. I won’t tempt to say how long because it’s individual guys now. Mentally, he can handle this.”
Let’s hope so because the road never has and never will be an easy one for Mathieu.
This particular hurdle is a new one.
“He was crying–he was sad–he had never been injured,” Arians explained. “To take away the thing he loves the most and worsts so hard for…but he’ll get over it. He’s strong and he has a lot of support.”
The roller coaster ride continues but Mathieu is far better equipped for the bumps today than he was just over a year ago.
Another devastating event for the 21-year-old who’s seen it all come, and now go, so fast.