Wednesday, 29 February 2012

This badger is no bodger but he does like honey

There have been some pretty interesting nicknames for American football players over the past century, from 'the galloping ghost (RB Red Grange) and 'the diesel' (RB John Riggins), to 'bad moon rising' (WR Andre Rison).

Very few athletes have had an animal related nickname, with the exception of some legends that include Lance 'Bambi' Alworth the San Diego Chargers graceful wideout, Ted 'the mad stork' Hendricks the former Oakland Raiders linkebacker who was tall and crazy, and Ken 'the snake' Stabler another Raider legend who was a slippery fellow.

We are now possibly just over a year away from witnessing a new animal to step out of the wilderness to join the NFL set.

Tyronn Mathieu a cornerback at Louisiana State University is more commonly known as the 'honey badger'.

So how does a sophomore (second year college athlete) go from a mere mortal to an animal named by the Guinness Book of Records as the most fearless creature on the earth?

It helps is you have the same hairstyle as a honey badger, a four legged maniac that looks like a cross between a warthog a skunk and a small fat brown bear who has been a victim of a near-sighted council worker who spends his days painting white lines on anything living or dead.

It also helps if you are fearless, eat cobras, get poisoned by said cobra, fall unconscious, wake up and carry on eating cobra. Don't believe me check out the 'honey badger' video on You Tube that has been viewed 39,000,000 times and is narrated by someone who sounds like a voice-over artist on Fashion TV.

Mathieu is going to be a global megastar in a year or two, depending if he sacrifices his senior season (2014) to become draft eligible as a junior (third year college athlete) in 2013.

In two college seasons he has already built up a first round NFL draft pick portfolio, with 127 tackles, six sacks, 15 tackles for losses, four interceptions, eleven forced and eight recovered fumbles. To top it off he has also returned two punts for touchdowns and has played in a National Championship (losing 0-21 to Alabama earlier this year.

Mathieu's awards in two seasons trump the combined contents of De Niro and Streep's living room fireplace shelves, most namely the 2011 Bednarik Award winner as America's number one defensive college player. Mathieu was also a Heisman Trophy finalist, the award that goes to the most outstanding college athlete every year.

Mathieu is a New Orleans native and playing for his home team LSU Tigers has meant the world to him. His story is one of great sadness, with his biological father in prison for shooting a man. He was fortunate to have extended family help him and keep him focussed on football and staying the right side of the law.

If Mathieu continues on the path he is currently sprinting down he will eclipse his former team-mate Patrick Peterson, and become a top three NFL pick.

Peterson, another LSU stud corner, who went number five overall in the 2011 NFL draft (to the Arizona Cardinals) went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie despite being on a non-playoff team.

There must be something in the Bayou water, or maybe they lace babies bottles with some old fashioned 'southern comfort', either way the quality of cornerbacks coming out of the LSU football program is gaining national attention.

I only wish Mathieu would be eligible to be drafted in 2012, as I don't think I can wait to listen to Cris Collinsworth saying something like 'Wow there goes the Honey Badger, he just out-foxed Megatron on that matchup, clawing the ball away."

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