BY: ED COLE
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The #BirdGang has seen the Tyrann Mathieu movie before; the flick where Mathieu tears his ACL and LCL against the St. Louis Rams in his rookie year, which cuts short a spectacular season for him, which most experts think gets him a Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
When Cardinals fans sat down on Dec. 20 to watch their team take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football, they didn’t expect to see Mathieu in the starring role of another horror movie where the star goes down, but unfortunately they did after Mathieu landed awkwardly on his right leg after making a routine interception, and his knee buckled.
It was a horrible sight to see no doubt, but nobody felt as bad as Mathieu did, not only physically and mentally, but also for the fact that he wouldn’t be able to finish the championship run the team started back in mid-September, because of another ACL injury.
“It was tough man, I tell you,” Mathieu said. “I put so much into last offseason, and trying to have my best season, and hoping to finish the season healthy, and I wasn’t able to do that, which really was a disappointment for me, not to mention not being out there to help my team. It really was a bad combination.”
Anyone who remotely knows Mathieu, knows that he is the hardest working, and most determined individual in the world, as evidenced by him being spotted rehabbing with Cardinals physical therapist Brett Fischer on Tuesday at the world renowned Fischer Institute in Phoenix.
Mathieu says Fischer’s been “pushing” him to and past his physical limits, but Mathieu says that’s exactly what he needs to keep his comeback process alive and kicking.
“(Brett) Fisch(er) does a great job of just keeping me prepared every day, easing my mind, making me feel comfortable, so when I come in every day, I’m able to attack my workout with a clear mind,” Mathieu said. “It’s definitely a great institution.”
Of course, Mathieu would like to give 200-percent during his workouts with Fischer, but there’s limits to what he and Fischer can do together, as there’s rules to go by in his rehab.
“For right now, there’s only so much we can do. We have to work with doctors, and trainers and abide by those guys rules for the most part,” Mathieu said. “These first couple months are going to be real slow. It’s all mental, and you’re really just working on (your) strength.”
It may be a slow process for Mathieu, but it’s a necessary one, and one that’s paying immediate dividends. He says he’s feeling as great as ever, and his right knee is coming along quite nicely, thanks to Fischer and his miracle methods.
“I feel great man,” Mathieu said. “It (knee) feels great. It feels much better than the last time around. I’m really pleased with the progress right now.”
The second biggest topic surrounding Mathieu, after his knee and the rehab, is his contract situation. Right now, he’s coming in at a mega-steal at $1,713,250 for the 2016 season. For what Mathieu’s been to this organization, the fans and the state of Arizona, he needs to be properly compensated, and from various reports, that’s in the works.
Mathieu chooses to flip the script a bit away from him and onto the Cardinals. Yes money’s important, and he should be one of the highest paid defensive backs in the league, but for him, it’s more about the organization, and what they’ve done for him, more so than the money.
“I think the biggest thing is this organization taking a chance on me, (and) believing in me when basically no one else did,” Mathieu said. “I would love to spend the rest of my career here. Obviously, this is a business, so hopefully we can get something worked out, but my biggest focus is rehabbing my knee, and being 100-percent for next season.”
Two of the biggest Tyrann Mathieu fans are Cardinals general manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians. Obviously they saw beyond Mathieu’s faults, and saw a young man that had the potential to be great, and they were right on the money in their assessment of him.
“I believe that those two (Keim and Arians) really believe in me,” Mathieu said. “They believe that I can be the leader of this defense. I am one of the leaders of this defense, and that’s really my responsibility. They’ve made it very clear that they want me to be a Cardinal, so I’m really looking forward to our future together.”