After rehab, Mathieu says he on right path

INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Louisiana State cornerback Tyrann Mathieu drew a large crowd of reporters for his Sunday news conference at the NFL Combine, discussing the off-field problems that led to his dismissal from the team prior to last season.

"My best friend right now is honesty," Mathieu said. "I want to be as open as possible because I'm trying to rebuild my trust. I want those guys to be able to trust me. I hold myself accountable."

Mathieu was awarded the 2011 Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation's best defensive player. In August 2012, he withdrew from LSU and entered a drug rehabilitation program, but was arrested for possession of marijuana in October.

"I thought my bottom was when I got kicked out of school, but when I got arrested in October, that was a different bottom," he said. "I decided to go to rehab. But at this time, the rehab was for Tyrann, I just wasn't going to it because my school told me to go. I actually wanted to get my problem corrected."

While he has yet to speak with the Patriots, Mathieu said his focus is on earning the trust of teams who interview him this week in Indianapolis.

"I'm not totally asking them to trust me right now," Mathieu said. "What I am asking them is for them to give me an opportunity to play the game again. I've had a lot of time to reflect upon it, especially without football. So it's really given me a different outlook on life and just about being the right kind of person."

The 20-year-old Mathieu said he has also undergone counseling and has a sponsor.

"I know what it's like not to be in the front of the room, not to be the center of attention," he said. "I know what it's like to be humiliated. To go back down that road, not a chance in this world. Not a chance in my lifetime again."

Mathieu conceded that his off-field concerns will cause some teams to erase him from their draft board, and will cost him "millions" of dollars, but he said he wants to now be seen as an NFL prospect. Listed as 5-foot-9 while at LSU, Mathieu downplayed his lack of height while telling reporters he believes he has been recently timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

"I'm definitely holding myself accountable for what I've done. I took full responsibility for it," he said. "But once I get back in football, I'm still going to make those big-time plays and be that excitement for my team."

Known as "Honey Badger" while at LSU, Mathieu said he is trying to move away from the nickname.

"I have (moved on), but a lot of people haven't," Mathieu said. "But that's OK. Because I'm Tyrann right now. If the Honey Badger sticks, it sticks. Right now I'm focused on being Tyrann Mathieu."