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Thank you, Tyrann Mathieu, for always being yourself

Good luck to the Honey Badger as this chapter of his career comes to a close.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Like many things throughout Tyrann Mathieu’s life, his time with the Kansas City Chiefs wasn’t always easy.

But it was worth it. While the lows sometimes felt personal, the highs were as high as they come.

But that’s who Mathieu is. He is a real human who takes things personally, and he deals with people on a personal level.

Last month the Kansas City Star’s Sam McDowell sat down with Mathieu in New Orleans to discuss his departure from the Chiefs, what’s next for the Honey Badger and life in general.

It was as raw and honest of an interview as I’ve read in quite some time. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so.

Mathieu that to understand him fully, you have to get to know him — and players like him.

“You gotta get to know them,” he told them. “Like, really know them. Where they come from, what they like to eat, the way they talk, the way they think.”

Our environments shape us. Some of us aren’t bad people.”

The article wasn’t a profile of Mathieu’s background, where he came from or the struggles he’s overcome. These things have already been documented.

Instead, it was something far simpler: a thank you to the man Tyrann Mathieu is.

He is not perfect, but he never claims to be.

He is cocky, but he owns it.

Above all else, he was always honest with us.

He loved being a Chief, and he was emotionally invested in our team and our community. The NFL is a business — so sometimes, business decisions have to be made. Football players are not robots. They are humans — with the same fears, hopes and desires that we all have.

We all want to achieve greatness. Few of us actually get to touch it. But when the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, Mathieu did. And he let us have a taste of what it’s like to be greatest in the world at something — even if only for a moment.

Even if it’s over now — and his time in Kansas City is over with it.

THE CHIEFS WON THE SUPER BOWL — thanks in large part to him.

Yet Mathieu says that the Chiefs never made an offer to extend him.

“I just knew. Everything I was working for, man. Every day I wake up trying to make the Chiefs better, trying to make the community better. I’m just working toward that knowing that there’s an end date. There’s an expiration date to that.”

The writing had been on the wall for some time — but once the Chiefs turned their attention to 25-year-old former Houston Texans safety Justin Reid, the situation was no longer metaphorical. It was written in ink on a contract that didn’t have Mathieu’s signature at the bottom. The Chiefs gave Reid a three-year, $31.5 million contract. Mathieu’s time in Kansas City was over.

This week, his hometown New Orleans Saints signed Mathieu for three years and $33 million — $18 million of which is guaranteed. I’m happy for him. After everything he’s given us, he deserves to go home and play in front of his home city. It’s a situation every football player dreams about — and one that few actually get to experience. I couldn’t be happier for him.

When Mathieu arrived in Kansas City, the Chiefs were an offensive juggernaut looking for a defensive identity. They found it in No. 32. He helped bring the championship swagger that had been missing from the Chiefs roster.

During Mathieu’s introductory press conference with the Chiefs in 2019, head coach Andy Reid didn’t mince words about the type of person and player that Mathieu is.

“We have a leader and somebody that is not afraid to step up and take on that role. And he is a good football player. And he is a better person than all of that. He is a class act. The things that he will do for the community will be as spectacular as the things he does for our football team.”

During his three-year stint in Kansas City, Mathieu was selected to the Pro Bowl twice and was a two-time All-Pro. Over this span, the Mathieu tallied 13 interceptions, 27 passes defended, eight tackles for loss and a combined AV of 29.

Mathieu is an intelligent player who understands the game and is rarely caught out of position. He’s a versatile chess piece who is rangy enough to play the deep zone and prevent opposing teams from taking the top off the defense, but also gritty enough to play in the box and stop the run. In Kansas City, he was the leader of a defense that instilled his Honey Badger mentality in the younger guys.

Despite not being the biggest guy — standing just 5 feet 9 and weighing 174 pounds — he commands the respect of every person in a locker room.

The three years that Mathieu played in Kansas City have arguably been the most successful in the franchise’s history. The team hosted four consecutive AFC Championship games and appeared in back-to-back Super Bowls, winning one of those.

Off the field, Mathieu is a proud father who lives his life with his heart on his sleeve. He came from a rough place. He knows what it’s like to feel cast aside — as if nobody cares.

He lives his life to show others that he cares.

He is a man who reaches out to the fringes of society to the people who sometimes feel invisible: the ones who just need a helping hand. Mathieu’s charity work gives them that hand, letting them know that they are not forgotten.

The holidays are some of the hardest times for people who find themselves in this sort of situation. This past Thanksgiving — while his own future was in doubt — Mathieu still passed out 500 turkeys to members of the Kansas City community, trying to help shoulder the burden of providing holiday meals to those who could not do it on their own.

Before that, he took local kids from the Boys and Girls Club on a shopping spree at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Then there was the time that he surprised 10 foster families at Christmas, making sure that those kids still had a great holiday season.

This is just a sample of the impact that Mathieu made on our city. His true impact is far greater than this.

On the field, he was a cold-blooded competitor. Off it, he was the big-hearted older brother we all needed.

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Thank you, Tyrann, for being our Landlord — and for always being your most authentic self. Each time you stepped on the sacred turf at Arrowhead Stadium, you gave this city everything you had. Your hard work raised championship flags. When we look upon them waving on game days, we will remember you.

You brought glory to our city. Your legacy will not be quickly forgotten. You are forever a Chief.

Thank you.

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