Tyrann Mathieu has become one of the most feared defensive backs in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs. He has ultimately proven that his 5-foot-9-inch, 190-pound frame won’t keep him from becoming one of the best professional football players in the league today. However, while Mathieu has a menacing presence on the football field, he once admitted to fearing for his own life after calling an alleged killer a “coward.”
Tyrann Mathieu is one of the best defensive backs in the NFL
Tyrann Mathieu was a third-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, and he quickly proved that he was worth much more than a third-round selection.
Mathieu only recorded 68 total tackles in his first season and then 38 in his second season, but in 2015, Mathieu earned Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors after recording 89 total tackles, five interceptions, and defending 17 passes.
He didn’t play quite as well over the next few years. Mathieu recorded 35 total tackles in 10 games in 2016, and then 78 and two interceptions in 2017, but he then had a nice season with the Houston Texans in 2018. Mathieu recorded 89 total tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions that year.
However, ever since joining the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019, Mathieu has been one of the most successful defensive backs in the NFL. Mathieu earned First-Team All-Pro honors in both 2019 and 2020, as well as a Pro Bowl selection in 2020. Mathieu also picked off a career-high six passes with the Chiefs during that 2020 campaign.
In addition to his success in the regular season, Mathieu helped the Chiefs win a Super Bowl in 2019 with 18 total tackles in three postseason games. He then also picked off a pass during their 2020 playoff run, helping them reach their second consecutive Super Bowl.
While Mathieu has found success in Arizona, Houston, and Kansas City throughout his NFL career, he is from Louisiana, and in 2016, another NFL star tragically lost his life there.
Cardell Hayes allegedly shot Will Smith
According to Nola.com, in 2016, former New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl defensive end Will Smith hit the back of Cardell Hayes’ car. He didn’t stop, either. Hayes then reportedly went after Smith and rear-ended his vehicle. Then, “both men got out of their cars, and Hayes, now 33, fatally shot Will Smith,” per Nola.com. Smith’s wife, Racquel Smith, was also wounded.
Hayes was then charged with murder, attempted murder, and inflicting criminal damage on a vehicle. At trial, though, Hayes said that he acted in self-defense as he claimed that Will Smith fired shots at him first. He also said that his gunfire was not what injured Racquel Smith. Jurors then voted 10-2 in favor of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter convictions. Hayes then received a 25-year prison sentence.
However, the Supreme Court has since ruled that non-unanimous jury verdicts are unconstitutional. This led to the U.S. Supreme Court tossing out his manslaughter conviction in January 2021, according to Nola.com. His case could eventually go back to court.
Tyrann Mathieu called Cardell Hayes a ‘coward’
In 2016, Mathieu took to Twitter to discuss the tragic incident.
“Never knew he’d grow up to be a killer tho …. May you get what you deserve coward,” he said, according to USA Today.
Mathieu then later revealed that he received death threats for his tweet.
“I know the guy personally and, Rich, it’s not really for me to put his personal business on-air,” he said on the Rich Eisen Show, according to CBS Sports. “Because when I came out yesterday and called him a coward, I received death threats from guys in New Orleans — from his relatives. And I’m thinking to myself … ‘What do you guys want from me? I’m only here to speak the truth.'”
He then said that he wasn’t able to stay in New Orleans for more than 48 hours anymore.
“Every time I go back home, Rich. I cannot stay for longer than two days,” he said, according to USA Today’s For The Win. “People know where you are. They know where you’re at. And they will find you. And they will bump into you. And they will try to start some kind of altercation with you. And the first thing that they think about is to take your life. They don’t want to ask any questions, they don’t want to talk about anything. They just want to let loose with their guns.”
Well, that sounds terrifying.
Tyrann Mathieu has become a pretty impactful athlete. So, hopefully, his comments about New Orleans have ultimately helped make the city a better place than it was when Will Smith tragically lost his life in 2016.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference