Mathieu Unplugged: Time To Change New Orleans’ Culture

Tyrann Mathieu has become the face of the Arizona Cardinals on the field and in many ways, the voice off it.

The Cards’ safety didn’t mince words when joining FOX Sports Radio’s Mike Hill and Kirk Morrison Sunday just hours after New Orleans Saints’ defensive end Will Smith was gunned down after a traffic altercation Saturday evening. 28-year old Cardell Hayes was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Hayes sued the city of New Orleans after police killed his dad back in 2005.

“It’s a senseless crime and it happens time and time again,” Mathieu, a New Orleans native, said about the popular Smith’s death in his hometown. “It hits close to me. I was fortunate because all those things were around me, man. The violence. The drugs. The abuse of women.”

Mathieu, who’s adopted, was fortunate avoid the “ugly” side of ‘The Big Easy.’ He talked about attending a private school and admitting “he had it better than most people” in his community.

He said some who grew up around him were simply a victim of society in a city which often doesn’t allow youth to thrive and prosper. There is no outlet. No parks to play in after dark or places to go where they can avoid trouble.

“It’s second-to-none in New Orleans when you talk about the lack of opportunities for these young people,” Mathieu told FOX Sports Radio. “It’s not just black kids. It’s white kids. It’s Asian kids…it wasn’t because their parents didn’t want them to be active in sports. Their parents were working three or four jobs to try to afford the house they were staying in or pay for food on the table. 80 percent of the people I know their fathers are in prison, their mothers are in prison.”

He feels the cycle must change in one of America’s most dangerous cities.

“It’s time for me to speak up, it’s time for me to reach out,” Mathieu passionately explained. “Let these kids know, ‘hey, you don’t have to be a football player and you don’t have to be a rapper to make it out of those types of situations. What you have to have is motivation and you have to have drive…you have to stop following these groups of people. These people don’t care about you.”

Mathieu recently returned to his hometown for his grandmother’s funeral.

“The vibe I got when I landed in New Orleans. The culture is absolutely different. It’s so dangerous. I fly in and I fly out of town. That’s how scared I am and this is where I come from.”

Strong words from someone who is fearless both on the field and in life.