Tyrann Mathieu, unwanted by the Chiefs, was wanted by the Saints. And he wants to make a positive mark in his return to New Orleans.
“I have a lot to accomplish on the field and off the field,” Mathieu told Peter King for his Football Morning in America column. “To come back here and play where I grew up is really good, really important. When I was young, and I was making mistakes, some big mistakes, a lot of times, something bad would happen with me, or I’d go to jail, and I could sense it in the people who believed in me. Disappointment. Hurt. So now, in my community, I’m gonna be the everyday reminder. You can get better. You can turn your life around. I did. It’s important for me to play great. But it’s as important for me to show these kids you can come back from big mistakes and be better. I’m better. I really want to help these kids in New Orleans.”
Mathieu didn’t expect to get an offer from the Saints after a visit that was downplayed as basically a courtesy when it happened.
“I remember walking out of the building that day,” Mathieu told King. “‘Those guys don’t need me. They don’t need the Honey Badger.’ That’s what I thought. I play a tricky position. Once you turn 30, it’s easy to just go draft a 22-year-old. Then they called me. I was thrilled. The money doesn’t matter. I just feel like there is so much more for me to accomplish.”
It’s a great turn of events for Mathieu, after the way things worked out for him in Kansas City, where he didn’t even get an offer to return after three seasons with the Chiefs.
“The business sucks,” Mathieu told King.
Indeed it does. Every year, many of the 250-plus drafted players and some of the undrafted rookies make plenty of veterans expendable. At best, they get squeezed to take less to stay. At worst, they get cast aside from a team where they’d prefer to remain.
That’s what happened to Mathieu in Kansas City. The good news is that it allowed him to come back to New Orleans, where he’ll provide skill and leadership to the Saints and renew acquaintances with Tom Brady, 19 months after they exchanged pleasantries at Super Bowl LV.