Chris Rose: Honey Badger

Published: Aug. 16, 2012 at 12:29 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2012 at 12:29 AM CDT
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Tyrann Mathieu's upcoming season at LSU was among the high points of an autumn laced with fevered sports anticipation around Louisiana.

Like the Saints' hopes to defy the NFL and win a Super Bowl in their own backyard; like the newly-transformed Hornets' promise of a playoff run; the Honey Badger's return to the field was a primary talking point among fans around the region, both casual and committed.

But cut loose by LSU over the weekend, likely for another taste of weed – genuine or synthetic, who knows, who cares – Mathieu is, like his cartoonish rodent namesake, now left to his own wiles to survive the wilderness.

What a cliché his story has turned out to be; another story of too much, too soon for a precocious young athlete, the promise of vast wealth, universal adulation, unlimited mad play and the cover of the Rolling Stone.

Then comes the inevitable implosion.  Like the famed viral video proclaims: Honey Badger don't care.  Honey Badger takes what he wants.

Honey Badger took too many hits off the field instead of on it.

Great expectations, up in smoke.

It is easy for armchair quarterbacks to toss judgments around like Drew Brees cross patterns, but what we often tend to forget or overlook – or simply dismiss – is the pressure on a teenager like this, someone thrust from obscurity to the pages of

No less than other pint-sized piano prodigies or adolescent Hollywood stars, star athletes also give up many of the trappings and rituals of being a regular kid.

The urge to party seems to be one of those rituals Mathieu was unwilling to surrender.

And now he faces the very adult challenges of banishment, problem-solving and recovery. It's time for the Honey Badger to man up.

It's hard not to wish him luck on this next journey.

Tyrann Mathieu is an easy, likable young man with a winning smile, open personality and insanely gifted football skills.

In this epic tale of cliches, you gotta hope this is just another fumble the Honey Badger can scoop up and run back to daylight.