It hasn't been a great year for the Honeybadger.
In a recent interview with ESPN’s Joe Schad, a teary-eyed Tyrann Mathieu opened up about getting kicked off the LSU football team for violating LSU's substance abuse policy for athletes. As you'll recall, he was arrested in October for marijuana possession. Now that Honeybadger has his sights set on the 2013 NFL Draft, he's cleaned up his act and, perhaps more importantly, trying to clean up his image:
Sitting in that jail cell, it clicked. Looking at those people, just staring at me. 'You don't belong in here.' They wanted to come through the jail cell and get me. I'm scared now. Because it's reality now. I don't ever want to feel like this again. I'm not going to feel like this again.
Here's what the 20-year old told ESPN about his marijuana use:
“I abused myself through marijuana. Was I addicted to it? Maybe. Did I form a habit of it? Yes. When people didn’t think I had a good game or I didn’t have the greatest practice ever, I didn’t go into the office and try to figure out what was going on. I just automatically abused myself.”
How nice. But when you watch the interview, it stinks of the usually contrived "Hey, I fucked up, now here's an overdramatic public apology served on a platter." From the outside looking in, it feels like a manufactured smoke and mirrors media event to save face with one's public image. How many times before the interview was he coached and groomed by a really, really good PR guy? There's a lot of prospective money from Honeybadger's NFL career on the line.
If Mathieu had not been busted and kept on smoking through college, perhaps even affect his playing, would he still turn on the waterworks for the TV cameras? Hypothetically, would anyone even care if he said "Hey, I used to smoke pot but then I quit?" a few years from now? Would there be the same silly manufactured public outrage?
A similar thing happened to Justin Bieber over the weekend; A picture of Biebs smoking a blunt hit TMZ, more or less forcing Bieber to issue a public apology on Twitter for letting his fans down. I'm not sure why people feign shock and outrage over this; People with extraordinary talent -- just like everyone else -- fuck up sometimes. What does it say about us, the general public, that we more or less force these guys into a made-for-TV event just to achieve some sort of public redemption? Are we really that unforgiving?
The fact that people care about what justin bieber or any celebrity does in their spare time is ridiculous, period.— Brandon Wenerd (@brandonwenerd) January 5, 2013
The two situations, though both involving weed, are not necessarily analogous; A picture of Bieber smoking a blunt won't affect his overall career quite like Mathieu sitting in the Tiger Stadium bleachers his junior year. But, what if Mathieu dominates in the NFL combine and ends up with decent NFL Draft status WITHOUT such an interview? Would the whole face-saving charade with Joe Schad have even been necessary?
Honeybadger sees his story ending like a Ray Lewis: "Passionate off the field, passionate on the field." Good for him. I hope it does.
But will we, the public as a whole, ever let him get to that level?