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Tyrann Mathieu eager to shed his 'Honey Badger' past

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tyrann Mathieu is dropping the "Honey Badger" moniker. That's just one part of his transformation from a gifted-but-troubled playmaker to humbled prospect looking for an NFL opportunity.

The LSU cornerback was kicked out of school and missed the 2012 season because of repeated violations of the university's substance abuse policy. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011.

"I hold myself accountable for everything I've done," Mathieu said Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "This past year has been tough, but at the end of the day I want them to know I'm a football player.

"I'm not totally asking them to trust me right now. But what I am asking is for them to give me the opportunity to play the game again. I've had a lot of time to reflect on it, especially without football. It's really given me a different outlook on life."

Mathieu was arrested for marijuana possession in October after already being kicked off the team. He's been to rehab, undergoes counseling and has a sponsor. Mathieu said he hasn't used an illegal substance since Oct. 26.

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

Mathieu acknowledged his behavior probably has cost him millions of dollars, but claims that doesn't bother him. He credits people in his support system, which includes Patrick Peterson (Arizona Cardinals), Darrelle Revis (New York Jets), Morris Claiborne (Dallas Cowboys) and Corey Webster (New York Giants), as helping him move on his life.

"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 know what it's like not to have football. I know what it's like to not be the center of attention. I know what it's like to be humiliated. To go back down that road? Not a chance in the world."

Mathieu needs to convince teams he can be the player that was once the top ball-hawk in the country. He also has to continue to keep his nose clean as a professional with a lot more cash in his pocket.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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