Safety Tyrann Mathieu and linebacker Anthony Hitchens, properly considered the two most important leaders of the Kansas City Chiefs defense, made headlines in Kansas City on Saturday for all the wrong reasons.
It all began when a fan-run Instagram account, “Arrowhead Nation,” posted a photo of defensive end Frank Clark that included an insulting exercise in its caption: “Rank these 3 Brett Veach moves in terms of how bad they were.”
Among the options was, “Signing Anthony Hitchens to a 5 year $45 million contract with over $20 million guaranteed.”
Hitchens found the post and responded with a comment from his own official Instagram account.
“All we did was go to 3 AFC champions games and 2 Super Bowls and 1 SB win,” wrote Hitchens. “In my first 3 years here so far !!y’all fans will never be satisfied it’s sad !!”
Mathieu then chimed in.
“Big facts,” wrote Mathieu. “This might be one of the most toxic fan bases in all of sports.”
The safety, who is a frequent user of social media (and especially Twitter), has made his dissatisfaction in contract negotiations with the club clear several times through deleted tweets. He is in the final season of a three-year, $42 million deal with the club and has said in the past that he would like to remain with the Chiefs.
Responding to a fan who wrote, “#dontpaytheman” on the same thread, Mathieu wrote “somebody gon pay me. I’m too smart & im too good!”
Hitchens also dug in with another comment.
“These boys will never understand talk big on internet but want pics and autographs in person haha,” the linebacker wrote. “Me my family and kids family ‘that don’t exist yet’ are set for life !!! Y’all keep trolling put y’all phones down and go get some money, BTW y’all opinions don’t matter!!”
The Chiefs defense is currently ranked as the fifth-worst team in yards allowed per game (404.6) and sixth-worst in points allowed per game (29.0).
Mathieu apologizes; Andy Reid comments
Mathieu popped up on the Chiefs-New York Giants injury report on Friday, as he missed practice due to what the team described as an “illness.” Mathieu returned to the practice field on Saturday and then went to the podium to address the overnight comments.
“In regard to the comment that [went viral], obviously, that was a mistake on my part,” said Mathieu. “I haven’t had the season that I’ve wanted to have. I think as a team, you could say the same. Frustration tends to build up. Obviously, people that really know me — teammates, people that I deal with in the community, even the fans I happen to come across in the gas station — I think all these people, I think they can see me being a genuine person. I shouldn’t have used those choices of words. I think I’m man enough to admit that and really own that. So, just look forward to playing better, doing better and I think, most importantly, not being a distraction to my team.”
Mathieu maintained that he wants to remain in Kansas City past 2021.
“No, not at all,” he said, when asked if he has reconsidered his outlook. “I’ve been through worse things in my life as a professional athlete. I’ve had harder moments than being 3-4. The aspirations of playing in the Super Bowl, so I won’t necessarily use that card. Like I said earlier, I think it’s just more so, just more frustration with the moment. I think, once again, I think people that really know me, people that communicate with me directly, they know I’m all in on Kansas City. I’m all in with my teammates, I try my best to be all in with the community, so I don’t think I can paint a clearer picture [that] I want to be here.”
Speaking right after Mathieu, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid provided some of his thoughts on what transpires on social media between athletes and fans.
“These are emotional guys that love being Chiefs,” said Reid. “They take a lot of pride in each other. They protect each other and they do that whole thing. I do tell them, [social media] is a dangerous area, though, and we make that very clear. You’re really just talking to one guy, but now you’re talking to the whole world, and so we’ve got to do a better job with that in this case. I think Tyrann just told you that, and that’s how we address them prior to — during — training camp, we try to educate them on that. That’s a tough deal, though. As you know, in this day and age, I’m not real big on the whole thing, period.”