Cardinals safety Tyrann Matheiu walks to the stadium Saturday -- in front of a sign that says "Once a Tiger, Always a Tiger" -- prior to LSU's game against Alabama.
Tyrann Mathieu understands why there was some mixed reaction after the news he pledged $1 million Saturday to the Louisiana State University football program.
The Cardinals all-pro safety was kicked out of that program for marijuana issues, after all, and left school before finding his way to the NFL.
"Obviously a lot of people appreciate what I did (with the donation)," Mathieu said. "There are other people who want me to
necessarily hold a grudge with (LSU). But I don't have a grudge with them, or anything like that.
"If anything, I'm the one they should be mad at, because of what I did and how I disrespected my responsibility and my platform. There have been some mixed emotions, but it was always in my heart to do this."
Mathieu's donation will be used for improvements to the LSU Football Operation Center, as well as establish an endowed scholarship to the program.
"I've got great respect for LSU, the way they embraced me, the way they let me become a superstar and a household name," Mathieu said. "All the things they did for me to try and help me off the football field, just wanted to reach back out to them.
"It won't end there. I'll probably help out my high school, some other places as well. I'm just really grateful to be in the position I am in."
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva told the school's website "this gift from Tyrann is a wonderful act from someone that I have great respect and admiration for."
"Tyrann has been an example to our student-athletes on how to deal with adversity and come out on top," Alleva added.
Former LSU football coach Les Miles, who was fired recently, visited Mathieu's football camp in New Orleans in June and has said one
of his biggest regrets as a coach was dismissing Mathieu from the program.
But Mathieu has said repeatedly the rough time he had at LSU helped him grow as a person and get his life together. While Mathieu always insists his work in that area is ongoing, he has been everything the Cardinals could have hoped since they made him a third-round pick in 2013. At this point, only injuries have been a problem.
Mathieu has done well enough to sign a contract extension in training camp worth $21 million over the next two years alone, leading him to seek out charity. A year ago, after Mathieu accompanied Patrick Peterson to a game at LSU as Peterson was pledging $1 million to the school himself, Mathieu could only smile while playing on his own rookie contract.
"I don't have a million dollars," Mathieu said at the time. "Hopefully I can play well this season and get one of those really good contracts."
Once he did, he thought of matching Peterson's LSU donation.
"I think that's what life is about, giving back, helping other people," Mathieu said. "Anything they need. It's a blessing to be in this position."
Photos from Tyrann Mathieu's house in New Orleans and his trip back there in June