‘Honey Badger don’t care’ for his nickname anymore

McClatchy news servicesMay 10, 2013 

The Honey Badger wants to shed his nickname.

Too many bad memories, too much of a stigma attached to the name once meant as a compliment to former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.

“I understand that there’s a lot of people who love it and can’t let it go,” Mathieu said Thursday during his introductory news conference with the Arizona Cardinals. “But for me, I want people to recognize me as Tyrann. I don’t have anything against the nickname, it’s just that Honey Badger happened during such a dark time.”

It certainly was.

In 2011, Mathieu was one of college football’s most dynamic players. His relentless playing style had earned him his nickname, which cam from a viral YouTube video about the fierce, weasel-like animal and featured such commentary as, “Honey badger don’t care … it just takes what it wants.”

Then last season, Mathieu found himself out of the game and his future in doubt after repeated problems with marijuana.

He spent six months trying to rehabilitate his image and was emotional after being given a second chance, sobbing almost uncontrollably after the Cardinals used a third-round draft pick on him.

With Arizona about to start a rookie minicamp, it’s time for Mathieu to begin proving to the Cardinals that they didn’t make a mistake in drafting him so high.

He spent the months leading up to the draft trying to rehabilitate his image and keep himself in shape, and he realizes the changes he’s made over the past six months or so have to stick.

“To go through that then and understand my responsibility now, I have a different mindset and a different outlook,” Mathieu said. “I know there are a bunch of people out there who want me to succeed and want me to be a leader in the community.”

As for the Honey Badger nickname, Mathieu hopes to have that retired — except in certain situations.

“If the little kids out there want to call me Honey Badger, they can do that,” he said.

VIKINGS, GOPHERS REACH STADIUM AGREEMENT

The Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota announced the details of an agreement that will allow the NFL team to play all of its home games at the Golden Gophers’ stadium in 2014 and 2015 while the Vikings’ new stadium is being built.

The agreement includes two additional years if necessary, but the Vikings made clear that they plan to be playing at TCF for only two seasons.

The 2013 season will be the Vikings’ last at the Metrodome.

The university will be paid as much as $3 million each season by the Vikings and will keep all parking revenue. The Vikings will be responsible for paying for upgrades to TCF Bank Stadium, including heating the artificial turf field and adding seats to increase capacity.

EXTRA POINTS

Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro, the 15th overall draft pick, became the first player chosen in the first round this year to sign a contract. … Other draft choices to sign included second-round linebacker Manti Te’o with the Chargers and former Stanford tight end Zach Ertz with the Eagles. … Safety Gerald Sensabaugh retired after signing a one-day contract with the Cowboys. He played the final four seasons of his eight-year career with Dallas before being released in March. … The Cowboys cut former UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price and one-time USC quarterback Aaron Corp.

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