By Kelly Boggs, Editor
When college football standout Tyrann Mathieu entered drug rehabilitation after being kicked off the Louisiana State University football team in August for violating the school’s substance abuse policy, I wrote positively about the young athlete.
Reports from his family indicated that Mathieu, also known as the Honey Badger, would enter drug rehab in Houston on Aug. 17 and would not return to LSU or any other college for the fall semester.
My assumption was that Mathieu would spend the entire semester – at least 16 weeks – seeking to overcome his substance abuse. With that assumption in mind, I stated in a column that Mathieu’s decision to leave LSU in order to overcome his problem exhibited character that would serve him well in life. Sadly, it turns out I was wrong.
Shortly after I wrote the column about Mathieu it was announced he was returning to LSU as student for the fall semester. He enrolled for classes on Sept. 4, just 17 days after he had checked into a substance abuse program in Houston.
In my mind, the good decisions that had been previously announced had somehow morphed into poor decisions that would come back to haunt the Honey Badger. It seems that is exactly what happened.
It was announced on Oct. 24 that Mathieu was arrested with three other former LSU players. Mathieu and two others were charged with possession of marijuana, a fourth was charged with possession with the intent to distribute. The arrests were made in Mathieu’s apartment.
I applauded the announced decision that Mathieu would leave LSU in specific, and college in general, for an extended period of time in order to overcome his marijuana problem. However, I was disappointed when I heard that he had left rehab after only two weeks and was returning to LSU.
While there are those who question whether or not a rehab facility is necessary in order to deal with marijuana abuse, it certainly can’t hurt to get professional support in dealing with the psychological dimension of addiction.
To my way of thinking, a person who is serious about overcoming substance abuse does whatever he or she must do in order to kick the habit. Two weeks did not seem like a serious attempt to me.
The Bible records Jesus’ instructions for those who are serious about overcoming destructive habits. “If your right eye causes you to stumble,” Jesus taught, “pluck it out and throw it from you. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you.”
In hyperbolic fashion Jesus was indicating that a person should go to great lengths in order to overcome a destructive and sinful habit. It does not appear that Mathieu did everything he could to deal with his substance abuse.
When it was announced that Mathieu was returning to college for the fall semester, specifically LSU, I felt it made a poor decision even worse. By returning to Baton Rouge and LSU, Matthieu was placing himself in a situation rife with too much temptation.
In the Bible, specifically in the book of Proverbs, a young man is told to avoid the temptation of an adulterous woman by keeping his way far from her and by not going near her house. In his letter to the church in Corinth the Apostle Paul wrote, “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
By returning to LSU, Mathieu placed himself in a situation whereby he was certain to be tempted. He not only walked down the street of temptation, he seemingly knocked on the door. It is clear from his arrest that he continued to associate with those actively using marijuana. Not only does bad company corrupt good morals, it also can derail good intentions.
To a certain degree I can appreciate Mathieu’s situation. Though I was far from the spotlight of major college sports, when I was in my early 20s I had my own experience with life change.
For too long I had followed a course of excess partying littered with alcohol and marijuana. A course correction occurred when I committed my life to Jesus Christ. As was exposed to scripture, I was convicted that my lifestyle had to change.
I began to take steps to deal with my substance abuse. However, I naively thought I could retain my friends who still pursued a lifestyle of partying. It did not take long to realize that I could not. Like it or not, for my well-being, I had to put some distance between me and my friends.
I don’t know if Matthieu received any sound, solid biblical advice concerning his situation. If he did, it seems he chose not to follow it. It is a shame. I really thought, or rather assumed, he was taking the right steps.
If Mathieu had submitted to professional help for his substance abuse for a longer period of time, things might have turned out differently for him. If he had not returned to LSU, who knows, perhaps he could have overcome what appears to be an addiction to marijuana.
In John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem: Maud Muller, the poet wrote, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been!” For now, these words are sadly too true for Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger.
This recent episode does not have to be the end for Mathieu. We can hope and pray that this most recent situation would result in the Honey Badger turning the Lord and, as a result, a new beginning.