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Tyrann Mathieuís Complicated Homecoming

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Really great article! Tyrann Mathieuís Complicated Homecoming On Sunday, Tyrann Mathieu will play a home game, for his hometown team, for the first time in his career. The journey has been long and difficult. And the return? Itís complicated. GREG ...

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Old 09-15-2022, 11:52 AM   #1
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Tyrann Mathieuís Complicated Homecoming

Really great article!

Tyrann Mathieuís Complicated Homecoming

On Sunday, Tyrann Mathieu will play a home game, for his hometown team, for the first time in his career. The journey has been long and difficult. And the return? Itís complicated.

GREG BISHOP3 HOURS AGO

Classes at Northshore High School are in session, but no one bothers the NFL veteran strolling from the parking lot toward the football field. Thatís part of the balance heís seeking, whatís necessary for the task ahead. He could drive to his hometown of New Orleans in under 40 minutes, and yet, heís here, in Slidell, La., and not there, intentionally, just far enough away.

Itís a random July weekday, as Tyrann Mathieu carries a bright yellow backpack adorned with cartoon stickers through the overwhelming heat. Consider the bag a parental survival pack: wet wipes, green sippy cup, baseball gloves, candy. Anything to ensure a successful upcoming season for the NFL safety who roves on the job and from one gig to the next.

Tyrann Jr., age 8, and Mila, 2, trail behind, eyeing the sugar like tigers stalking prey. ďWhatís your name?Ē Mila asks anyone in earshot. She points to her father and announces, ďThis guy, his name is Daddy.Ē Giggling, she adds, ďHeís here now.Ē



Mathieu is here. Is back. In every possible sense, after signing with the Saints. Back training like before the LSU superstar days, basic and brutal and intentionally Rocky-esque. Back motivated, even more than normal. And back, well, home, which might sound perfect but isnít. Not exactly.

He loves New Orleans, loves the people, culture and vibe. The locals love him back. They crashed a website that sells custom Saints jerseys, swarmed him in public and urged him to run for mayor or city council. But thereís a part of him thatís wary, too. Or vigilant, at least. His best friend, Terry Lucas, likes to consider them both survivors. They spent their teens surrounded by poverty, gun violence, hurricanes, drug use, gangs, destruction, self-destruction, abandonment and deathótheyíre fortified and armored. Theyíre also guarded.

Mathieu isnít returning to survive, though. Heís coming back to impact his hometown far beyond the football field. Itís heavy, because itís him, itís New Orleans, and itís complicated. Hence a homecoming thatís unlike other homecomings, thatís bigger, more fraught and potentially transformative. The idea thrills him until it terrifies him, and he flips back and forth, trying to make sense of whatís possible and whatís not, where he fits and what he can let go.

He sometimes joked about this possibility with friends, family, even longtime Saints coach Sean Payton. Truthfully, though, Mathieu always believed that when he did return, it would be as an assistant coach at LSU. But play? At home? Come on. No way. Thatís the stuff of fairy tales.

Soon rain will fall and not in drops but in waves. Thunder will crackle in the distance. Mathieu will remove his tank top and continue sprinting with resistance bands attached to his waist. ďI never thought Iíd be able to come back still wearing my superhero cape,Ē he says.

Maybe this is a fairytale after all. Enigma to adversary to hero. Maybe, he thinks, it could be perfect. Storybook. Roll credits. The End.

The thought is forceful but fleeting, like the thunderclaps in the distance. Look closely. Notice the ink on his right leg, row after row of nearly identical crosses that explain why his relationship with his hometown is as much thorns as flowers.

The tattoos represent his torture and his torment, the friends and family members Mathieu lost during childhood alone. He added all 22 at once, over two sessions, one for each cross and one for the initials denoting each individual who died.

Fairy tale? Please. Tyrann Mathieu has a graveyard on his leg.

The ink hints at why this homecoming isnít as charmed as it might seem. And why, for Mathieu, the feelings tied to his return are not dissimilar to the resistance bands now straining around his waist. He knows it wonít be easy. He expects many twists.

The downpour turns the parking lot into a concrete lake. Workout finished, Mathieu carefully navigates the deluge, opens the high schoolís football office, changes into a gold T-shirt and settles into a black folding chair. Heís ready, now, to tell the full story of his homecoming, painful as it might be.

To understand what it meansófor Mathieu and his hometown, after all their shared and volatile historyóhe starts in the one place he never wanted to leave.

When the Chiefs signed Mathieu in 2019, everyone from general manager Brett Veach to coach Andy Reid to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo heralded his arrival. All said they planned to rebuild a shaky and aging defense in his ethos. They wanted the fiery leader with the versatile skill set, a safety who could defend the run and cover the leagueís best slot wideouts and tight ends.

Mathieu promised to deliver, on all of it, but he also wanted something else: to end the doubts that circled him, that made his career a mixture of accolades and storm clouds, regardless of how often he played, where or how well. Some of this uncertainty was internal, or internalized, as Mathieuís social media feeds filled with his angst. He fired back at critics. Or he invented them, adding to a stream of perceived slights.

He told friends he wanted to retire like Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, a Hall of Fame defensive backs synonymous with one particular place and its football teamís success. ďHe was hoping Kansas City would be that for him,Ē says Scott Savage, Mathieuís mentor and pastor.

ďLike, forever,Ē Mathieu says.



Read the rest here ... lots and lots more ...
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Old 09-15-2022, 12:03 PM   #2
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Re: Tyrann Mathieuís Complicated Homecoming

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Old 09-15-2022, 03:12 PM   #3
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Re: Tyrann Mathieuís Complicated Homecoming

Mathieu will be Brady's new kryptonite
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Old 09-15-2022, 03:32 PM   #4
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Re: Tyrann Mathieuís Complicated Homecoming

Originally Posted by saintsfan1976 View Post
Mathieu will be Brady's new kryptonite
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Old 09-16-2022, 02:39 AM   #5
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Re: Tyrann Mathieuís Complicated Homecoming

Great read!

Thanks for the link AG!
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Old 09-16-2022, 11:37 AM   #6
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Re: Tyrann Mathieuís Complicated Homecoming

That is a stunning piece. Sports journalism at its finest.
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Old 09-16-2022, 05:06 PM   #7
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Re: Tyrann Mathieuís Complicated Homecoming

I liked the "graveyard on his leg" quote. That'll keep you grounded.
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