Tag Archives: LSU

Tyrann Mathieu has a bumpy road ahead of him

I can’t see this working out at all

For all the drama that went with Mathieu crying on television after being selected and then giving an emotional interview to ESPN afterward, execs weren’t buying it.

To most, the question came down to this: Why does he keep drawing so much attention to himself? Why was he on television at all? Why was he tipping off the network to the possibility that San Francisco might take him with the No. 31 overall pick? Why was he on the cover of ESPN the Magazine? Why was he lending his name to some party promoters, even if it was some misunderstanding?

“Every time you turn around, it’s something else,” another NFC exec said. “There’s a certain point where you just tune it all out.”
Before the draft it was reported that Mathieu was a no-show for visits to Houston and Seattle for interviews. He unnerved other teams by talking about how he is still chewing tobacco to “take the edge off.” While he has left behind some of the bad influences in his life, he still is hanging out with something of an entourage of people from a troubled past that includes him getting kicked off of LSU’s football team last year.

Sure, Mathieu has been seeking guidance from a pastor in Baton Rouge and from his high school coach. Sure, he’s not a malevolent kid. He’s just smoking marijuana, not assaulting people. But he’s also the kid who worked out, admitted he had a problem and seemed to think everything was fixed. It’s as if Mathieu put a Band-Aid on an open gash and thought, “All better.”

It’s almost as if getting kicked off the team wasn’t quite enough for Mathieu to get the concept of rejection. Hard lessons fade like a bad dye job when you have people like ESPN’s Jon Gruden calling you the best cornerback in the draft (even though Arizona and most teams saw him as a safety if he’s going to start) and when you’re fully armed with the notion that rules don’t apply (Mathieu admitted to failing at least 10 drug tests at LSU).

You have a kid that doesn’t listen to anyone, has a drug addiction, surrounded by bad influences and is now being paid about a million dollars a year.  He’ll be cut by this time next year, signed by the Raiders or Bengals, cut, and in the CFL by 2014 where he will play about 6 games.

What would the end of football look like?

Relevant in Canada and the United States.  Writing for Grantland, economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier imagine how the NFL might end due to the increasing visibility of head injuries.

This slow death march could easily take 10 to 15 years. Imagine the timeline. A couple more college players — or worse, high schoolers — commit suicide with autopsies showing CTE. A jury makes a huge award of $20 million to a family. A class-action suit shapes up with real legs, the NFL keeps changing its rules, but it turns out that less than concussion levels of constant head contact still produce CTE. Technological solutions (new helmets, pads) are tried and they fail to solve the problem. Soon high schools decide it isn’t worth it. The Ivy League quits football, then California shuts down its participation, busting up the Pac-12. Then the Big Ten calls it quits, followed by the East Coast schools. Now it’s mainly a regional sport in the southeast and Texas/Oklahoma. The socioeconomic picture of a football player becomes more homogeneous: poor, weak home life, poorly educated. Ford and Chevy pull their advertising, as does IBM and eventually the beer companies.

What would the impact be?

Outside of sports, American human capital and productivity probably rise. No football Saturdays on college campuses means less binge drinking, more studying, better grades, smarter future adults. Losing thousands of college players and hundreds of pro players might produce a few more doctors or engineers. Plus, talented coaches and general managers would gravitate toward management positions in American industry. Heck, just getting rid of fantasy football probably saves American companies hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Other losers include anything that depends heavily on football to be financially viable, including the highly subsidized non-revenue collegiate sports. No more air travel for the field hockey teams or golf squads. Furthermore, many prominent universities would lose their main claim to fame. Alabama and LSU produce a large amount of revenue and notoriety from football without much in the way of first-rate academics to back it up. Schools would have to compete more on academics to be nationally prominent, which would again boost American education.

One of the biggest winners would be basketball. To the extent that fans replace football with another sport (instead of meth or oxy), high-octane basketball is the natural substitute. On the pro level, the season can stretch out leisurely, ticket prices rise, ratings rise, maybe the league expands (more great athletes in the pool now), and some of the centers and power forwards will have more bulk. At the college level, March Madness becomes the only game in town.