Welcome to the first edition of Huddle Up, a weekly Q&A with a Cardinals player on a topic outside of football. In this week's installment, safety Tyrann Mathieu talks about shopping at swap meets while growing up in New Orleans, and how his fashion taste hasn't changed even with money in his pocket.
Question: I heard you don't buy expensive clothing. Is that true?
Answer: Yeah. That's right.
Q: What's your thought process behind that?
A: Well, my best friend, who actually died a couple years ago, he was never really into the high-end fashion part of it. Obviously we didn't have a lot of money back then to spend on thousand-dollar t-shirts. So we would go to these thrift stores, these little swap meets, those types of things, and he would just get extremely fly with two-dollar shirts and three-dollar pants. I watched him and how he did it, so I've never really been a fan of high-end fashion. I feel like the clothes you wear don't really define who you are. It's more about the person. I should be able to put on anything. Most billionaires, they don't wear thousand-dollar t-shirts. I try to take that approach, and just watching my friend Jared and how he went about it, I never tried to get carried away with fashion. It didn't matter what I had on. I could still look appealing.
Q: So you never go to those designer places?
A: I'll be honest with you. The only time I like shopping high-end is with Pat (Peterson). He kind of pays for it (laughter).
Q: Well you're not paying for it then.
A: That's why it's cool. I like to stay low-key. I like underground brands. I like brands that are coming up because they're not trying to tax people and they're not trying to prove a point that they're the best in the business. It's more about just getting everybody to wear their clothing.
Q: Do you feel like it's a waste of money? A lot of you guys have money, but you'd rather use it differently?
A: I can use it for something else. I have two sons, so I try to think long-term. Obviously I'm in the NFL so I've got some type of money, so it doesn't really matter what I put on. I'm with Nike,
so most of the time I've got to wear Nike anyways (laughter).
Q: Was there a time after getting those first couple NFL checks where you thought about maybe getting some high-end clothes?
A: Yeah, well, I remember my first signing bonus, about $200,000. I went to Barney's and I got the little fancy designer shoes. I didn't really like them because they're not like your typical shoes. You wear them once or twice and they start getting bent out of shape. No one can step on them. I can't spill water on them or they'll be stained forever.
Q: And you're probably worried about it the whole time.
A: Yeah. I buy this high-end fashion and I don't want anybody to touch me.
Q: Do you feel like doing this is a part of remembering your friend who passed away?
A: Absolutely. His name was Jared Haynes and he still inspires me to this day, just because of the person he was. He never did anything for attention. He was just that guy who walked into the room with these cheap clothes on and he just captured everybody's attention. I just try to live up to that.
Q: So that's what it's about. It's more about the confidence within you than what you're wearing?
A: Absolutely. It's about the person. He was charismatic. He wasn't an attention-seeker, but he (naturally) grabbed all the attention. I try to fit that mold.
Images of Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu, who turned 23 on Wednesday.