Back in 2015, it seemed like the Cardinals had a great chance of reaching the Super Bowl, and Tyrann Mathieu was a big reason why.
But we know how the story turned out -- Mathieu tore his ACL on what should have been a fun and celebratory night in Philadelphia clinching he NFC West, and the Cardinals later got beat up pretty good in the NFC Championship game.
Mathieu is on his second team since the Cardinals released him after 2017, but he has finally made it to the Super Bowl as a key member of the Chiefs. His story has always been great and the layers he has added to it over the years only adds to the fascination. In a big story on NFL.com going over his journey with the Chiefs, much ground is covered and it focuses on the entirety of Mathieu's career, all the way back to his issues in college.
But it does contain a (not-surprisingly) thoughtful and self-aware comment from Mathieu about his end in Arizona.
"My last two or three years in Arizona (were difficult)," Mathieu said. "I had the two knee injuries that a lot of people can't come back from. I wasn't really playing at the level I expect. All of that was different for me. I've never been hurt. I've always been available. I've always been the best guy on my team. And none of those things were the case anymore. So, life was hard to live. And then when they cut me, I went in the bathroom and looked at myself and said that would never happen again."
Mathieu's time as a Cardinal did not end up the way either side had hoped, not after what each side had provided the other from the time the Honey Badger came into the league. Even Mathieu could see he wasn't the same player at the time. That he has rebounded to get back to where he is is a major credit to him, to reach a place he wasn't sure he'd ever make after lying crumpled on the turf in Philadelphia that December night in 2015.