22.07.2014

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If I remember correctly it was around the summer of 1993 when Bugsy asked me if I wanted to go to a keg party with these chicks he had met at Trudeau Park. I said that I’d go with him on the four hour drive to Ottawa, where we would meet up with these sisters that he was all googly-eyed over. He picked me up in what I assume was his Turbo Sprint,(He now tells me it was the Prelude) but please don’t quote me on that. Anyhow, we arrived in Ottawa around 1PM or so I think, and I was happy to have some reprieve from that son of a bitching tape.
I voiced my displeasure with the whole scene, because that’s what people do when they have no filter, and then it was on.
For the ride home, I sat in the back and tried to get some sleep, while Scott and Bugs sat in the front and listened to that dreaded cassette some more. He started to drive away, and I started to figure out my best course of action for getting the 200+ kilometres to my home. It was a pretty silent ride home, and we didn’t talk much for quite a while after that.
This entry was posted in Birdman, Humor, Life, Lucky Me and tagged appreciation, booze, comedy, cursing, drinking, friends, funny, humor, humour, life, lucky me, shenanigans by Chris Bird. I was a bit younger than you in 1993, and back then, I had terrible taste in music because I was a stupid kid. Tyrann Mathieu is out of rehab and living alone, trying to convince himself (and NFL GMs) that he's more than his old habits and nicknames. Tyrann Mathieu has tried a dozen forms of therapy since drugs derailed his life, but on this morning he decides the best antidote to temptation is a long walk alone. The idea of a beach walk started as a recommendation from his athletic trainer -- another drill meant to prepare him for the 2013 NFL draft, another psychological exercise he initially dismissed as "pointless." But as draft day nears and his anxiety mounts, Mathieu relies on the walks as part of his routine, an escape between timed 40-yard dashes and interviews with NFL executives who want to rehash his mistakes. It is more comforting than the family counseling sessions at LSU, the group therapy in a converted fraternity house or the inpatient rehab in Texas where counselors checked his toiletries each week to make sure they were alcohol-free. It's more comforting, on the best days, than lying on a couch and lighting a blunt -- the habit that caused so many problems in the first place. Mathieu's path on Pompano Beach is always the same: a mile down the sand to a black-and-white lighthouse and a mile back, with his head down and his breathing steady. The goal on his walks is to let stress slip away and to find clarity for what his sponsor calls the big questions. Tyrann Mathieu sits down with ESPN The Magazine to discuss his past and the upcoming draft. He moved to Florida by himself five months before the NFL draft, hoping to scrub his life clean of temptation, and all that remains is a Spartan daily schedule that hangs on his wall: A beach run or walk after dawn. One afternoon in early spring, Mathieu returns to the apartment and drops his workout gear on the floor. One of his old college teammates, quarterback Jordan Jefferson, is also training in Delray Beach, but Mathieu has kept his distance. When the assistant leaves with the car, Mathieu grabs a Popsicle from his fridge and turns the flat-screen TV to the History Channel. He had played well as a backup cornerback for LSU during his freshman season, and he returned the next year as the presumptive leader of the team's secondary.
But what he had gained in notoriety he had lost in control: Honey Badger became a drink named in his honor at the New Orleans bars and a T-shirt sold at tailgates, and Mr. What resulted for Mathieu was a season of contradictions: He led LSU to an SEC championship one week, then met in secret with a school psychologist at an empty Tiger Stadium the next. Coach Les Miles congratulates Mathieu, who was named the MVP in the 2011 SEC championship game. Mathieu arrived at the facility in November, the costs paid for by members of his family, with a new beard and his hair dyed back to its original color so nobody would recognize him. Three days after Mathieu checked in, a law student from New York told him he looked familiar.
Before he left rehab, Mathieu was asked by his counselors to make a list of the qualities he liked about himself and the qualities he wanted to change.
Then he moved to the qualities he wanted to improve, a list that spilled onto a second page: Disloyal. Counselors and therapists have instructed Mathieu to end relationships with people who triggered his addiction. Progress manifests in a hundred tiny ways, and late one morning in the Florida heat, Mathieu decides that one opportunity to showcase his recovery is to crush the 40-yard dash. On this morning, Peterson decides that Mathieu is not even ready to sprint the entire 40 yards in practice. Endorsement deals, pre-draft workouts, the pressure to perform -- all issues that stand before Mathieu. Peterson often tells Mathieu that a good defensive back needs to be in the best shape of any player on the field, and he uses that mantra again and again to push his protege to the brink of collapse. It is the same breaking point his counselors have repeatedly warned him to avoid, which is the dichotomy at the heart of being both a recovering addict and an NFL prospect. The question for Mathieu is whether he can manage his stress and stay sober, even as the NFL draft nears and the scrutiny increases. He buys a phone card from the clerk because he wants to call his girlfriend, but the clerk explains that the gas station has gotten rid of its pay phone. He remembers a tip that a rehab counselor gave him once -- a last resort for when his sobriety begins to feel threatened. He is somewhere between stressed and in control, between addicted and sober, between rehab and the NFL. He tucks a pinch of chewing tobacco against his lip and imagines the beach and the lighthouse. How Roger Goodell made the NFL bigger, richer and more powerful -- and now more divided -- than ever before. Roberto Clemente got his 3,000th hit, sent his bat to Cooperstown, and three months later he was dead. Whichever vehicle it was, it got us there safely, but four hours of Ace of Base was a little much.


We went into the backyard and this family was sitting there drinking a nice, warm keg of beer.
The chafing factor was at an all time high, and my thumb wasn’t making me any friends on the highway.
I met up with some buddies there, and we all wound up at Scott’s place for some drinks and an Ace of Base marathon after the bar shut down.
We kind of had different groups of friends by then, and as much as we loved each other, sometimes a break is what’s needed to keep a friendship strong. As for Ace of Base – as soon as I saw those words early on in your post, that damn song started in my head. He arrives at Pompano Beach in southeast Florida just after sunrise and parks his car in an empty lot. He has never been particularly good at dealing with stress, its effects already reducing him from a 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist to a recovering addict with an arrest record.
Mathieu is usually back at his antiseptic apartment in Delray Beach, a one-bedroom stucco in a gated community of retirees, with manicured palm trees and a swimming pool.
Counselors and therapists instructed him to end relationships with people who added to his stress and triggered his addiction, which turned out to be most of them, so he has changed his cellphone number twice in the past three months to avoid old high school and college friends. He has always been contemplative -- sometimes, according to his counselors at LSU, too pensive for his own good. He went back home to New Orleans to play for a national title and spent 14 hours a day sleeping in the team's hotel, too depressed to see visitors in the days before the game. He smoked some more during high school back in New Orleans, after LSU explained that its scholarship offer was contingent on Mathieu's raising his GPA. Both tests found traces of synthetic marijuana in his system, and they cost him a one-game suspension.
Then he returned to school for his junior year -- as a preseason All-American, a Heisman front-runner and a likely LSU captain -- and smoked on his first day off. He couldn't go back to LSU, at least not right away, and he couldn't play on the team for at least a year. Two days after his last practice at LSU, he boarded a plane for Houston and checked into 30-day rehab. The rehab was a 40-bed facility with stucco walls, set on 50 rural acres, a private place that didn't promote itself to the general public. It is a trivial drill that has nothing to do with drugs and little to do with actually playing football, but the NFL's relentless process of talent evaluation has a way of exaggerating the inconsequential. Mathieu's best friend, now a two-time Pro Bowler for the Arizona Cardinals, shares the same agent and has agreed to devote three months of his offseason to mentoring Mathieu. First he needs to master the 10-yard start, perfecting every micro-movement of his acceleration. The six-lane road is a rush-hour traffic jam of horns and headlights, and Mathieu squints against the neon. The nearby McDonald's doesn't have a pay phone either, so Mathieu buys some chicken nuggets and keeps walking.
Now 101, he'll run his last race in Hong Kong -- and try to find peace with a Guinness World Records slight.
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I looked around for the party that was to be attached to the keg and thought we must be at the wrong house, because this was literally a family sitting there and getting hammered. I went into the house to get away from all of the people calling me George Costanza, and then the brother(s) came in and told me to be the DJ. I made it to Baseline, and maybe a click or so down it, when I decided to turn my bowlegged ass around and rethink my strategy. He pointed and grunted at his jacket, so I grabbed the keys and fled, telling him I’d be back the next morning to pick him up.
I asked if I could see it for a minute, because I wanted to see who the songwriters were or something. He hit the brakes so fast and hard that I thought we would surely perish in a rolling ball of flames once we hit the gravel.
Luckily Bugsy’s loyalty and kindness overrode his anger and burning desire to choke me out, and I saw him stop and start backing up to pick me up. He pulls a hooded sweatshirt over his famous shock of yellow hair and tightens the waistband on his mesh shorts. The walks are part of his rehab, what he calls his Phase 2, and he says they have helped him stay sober for three months and counting. More comforting than the therapeutic rap songs he has begun writing, trying to make sense of his complicated life.
There are paintings of seashells on the walls and pink and purple beach towels hanging on a rack by the entrance. He avoids text messages from the mother who gave him up for adoption a lifetime ago and the uncle who took him in.
The clubs of South Beach are less than an hour away, and Mathieu thinks it is too tempting to have his car nearby at night.
Other college kids make their mistakes and move on; Mathieu would obsess about blown coverages and light a blunt. 7, which his best friend and former teammate Patrick Peterson, an All-American, had worn the year before, and dyed his hair yellow because his sister said it would give him swagger. Chaos was the high school friends who started road-tripping to LSU to watch him play, then stayed on his couches all week, playing video games until dawn and filling the apartment with the haze of Black & Mild cigars. He kept on smoking as he transitioned to college, because LSU coach Les Miles had a reputation for smelling the alcohol in a player's sweat during practice, which made marijuana the players' drug of choice. After the season ended with a loss in the national championship game, he started smoking three or four times a week, he says. Several Division I-AA coaches called to recruit him, descending like "piranhas ready to use him," Mullenix says. He couldn't yet declare for the NFL draft, not just days after his reputation had been decimated.


Maybe, Mathieu thinks, if he can consistently run the 40 in less than 4.5 seconds, a general manager will see that he is fit, that he is disciplined, that he can set a goal and achieve it. Peterson is everything Mathieu wants to become: a 22-year-old with Hall of Fame potential, a mansion in Arizona and a sterling reputation.
How can he avoid stress when even running 10 yards in practice results in scrutiny and dissection? He tries to call his sponsor but fails to connect; Mathieu changed his number again earlier in the day to cut ties with more old friends, and now his phone is temporarily out of service. He makes it to an Outback Steakhouse, where the pay phone is out of service and where the hostess at the front desk offers to call him a cab. I was just supposed to switch tapes on their dual cassette player after each song and then get a new one ready. I was dripping with anger by now, but because of my tendency to act like a stubborn asshole, I was kind of stuck in my role as the cry baby who didn’t like the party.
He handed it to me, and I glanced at it, trying to figure out if I should just play keepaway, or break the fucking thing in half. Those are the kind of people you need in your corner, and I hope you all have a Bugsy in yours. More comforting than talking on the phone every night with his sponsor, a 40-year-old recovering addict who cautions Mathieu to remember: "This is your life. He walks on the edge of the water and lets the waves crash against the partial tattoos of lightning bolts and Bible verses on his legs, which he started at LSU but left unfinished, like so much else. Can he manage his stress and stay sober even as the NFL draft nears and the scrutiny increases, with his career and his reputation again in the balance?
Then a two-hour workout with a training group of former college players in the Florida heat. He's tired, he says, of the family members who have repeatedly disappointed him and want only his validation and time, if not his money. Regret became self-hatred and anger, which became depression, which became days of sleeping 14 hours and missing class to smoke weed in his apartment with the shades drawn. It was 25,000 new Twitter followers every week and an ex-girlfriend posting old pictures of him naked.
Sometimes they smoked weed proper; other times they smoked synthetic marijuana, a blend of herbs and chemicals. If he had a drug test scheduled for Friday, he would stop smoking on Tuesday and hope the drugs cleared his system. Miles had always liked Mathieu, sometimes inviting him to have dinner in his office on Thursday nights, even when Mathieu was suspended or on probation.
A few hours after he was kicked out of school, the Heisman Trophy finalist packed his boxes in the car and drove 130 miles west to visit McNeese State University. He couldn't stand the thought of transferring, trading Saturday nights at LSU for half-empty stadiums of 6,500. He slept in a single bed in a room with whitewashed walls; other patients slept in medically supervised detox lodges. How can he re-dye his hair, shop for sponsorship deals, hold news conferences and re-embrace the Honey Badger nickname for what he calls brand reasons when that very brand fueled his addiction in the first place? He thinks about knocking on a neighbor's door to borrow a phone, but he doesn't know any neighbors. I thought that it sure beat the shit out of sitting with those fucking assholes outside, so I did it. Teammates and fans began to call him the Honey Badger, after a small and ferocious animal from Asia and Africa, but Mathieu hated the name. It was infighting among his family members as they told their contradictory stories about Mathieu's upbringing to the media -- a father in prison for second-degree murder who suddenly wanted to offer advice, a mother who had given him up as a baby and now hoped for forgiveness, an uncle who had adopted him and wanted more credit, Mathieu says.
Mullenix thought he was "troubled but genuinely big-hearted," and his dismissal felt in some ways like defeat.
The law student was a sports fanatic from a wealthy family, a lousy athlete who was addicted to OxyContin. They spin in circles to dizzy themselves before sparring in a boxing ring, disoriented, punch-drunk, leaning against each other or the ropes. I told Bugsy that I was ready to go whenever he was, and he said he just wanted to get busy with this girl, and then we could be on our way. I should have either tried harder to get along with those people, or just kept walking when I left the first time. Now the fridge is filled with frozen mashed potatoes, a 50-pack of hot dogs, Kraft cheese, peanut butter and Popsicles. At least a dozen NFL teams want to interview him in person, which means a dozen trips and a dozen more long conversations about marijuana. I went and laid on the couch near the stereo that I had kind of given up on, and I remember that there was an unfamiliar scent in the room. I could have weathered through some raw, chafed thighs, and who knows, maybe I would have got a ride in the next five minutes. He spent six hours a day with his therapy group, working through the 12-step approach popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous.
Nike and Under Armor are thinking about endorsements, he says, but those depend on what happens at the draft, which depends on his 40 times, which depends on those damn first 10 yards.
When the brother came in to piss and give me shit for my poor DJ skills, I asked him about it. They ate every meal together in a cafeteria and watched movies about addiction on Friday nights in the lounge.



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