CORTLAND, N.Y. – Several weeks ago, New York Jets safety LaRon Landry began getting texts about LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. Landry won't say who sent them, but the message was clear: Something's wrong.
"Guys were hitting me up," Landry, an LSU alum, said after practice at Jets camp Wednesday. "Even some coaches, saying, 'You gotta reach out to him.' "
Landry did, several times. He tried texting Mathieu, a junior who was a 2011 Heisman finalist, but he stopped getting replies. He even reached out on Twitter, to no avail. "Just answer the phone," he wrote to Mathieu.
Nothing worked. Landry said he even remembers thinking, "Don't treat me like a female."
Last week, Landry woke up to a text from a friend at LSU: Mathieu had been dismissed for violating team rules.
Landry didn't believe it at first. In a way, he still doesn't.
"You got a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick," Landry said. "How do you mess that up? Six more months, man. Six months."
Landry has been following Mathieu's career since high school, when people started telling him about a prep defensive back in New Orleans who "plays just like you."
"We became tight," Landry said. He started thinking of Mathieu as a little brother – a little brother with more talent.
Landry imagined the same destiny for Mathieu that he has enjoyed: stardom at LSU followed by asuccessful NFL career. Landry was a first-round pick by the Washington Redskins in 2007 and is entering his sixth NFL season. But while Landry has older siblings who "keep me in line," he wasn't sure Mathieu had the same support system. So he tried to help.
When it didn't work, Landry was "hurt" and "pissed off."
"He's a guy who got caught up living the life," Landry said. "Not being smart as a student-athlete. You gotta take the initiative and know the rights and wrongs. Ask yourself what's important in life."
Some LSU fans are upset that Mathieu wasn't given another chance at the school. Not Landry. He felt a one-game suspension for using synthetic marijuana last season was "a slap on the hand," and although he won't divulge what he has heard about Mathieu's alleged behavior over the past several months, he said more than once during a 30-minute interview, "Enough is enough."
"You're not bigger than the organization," Landry said. "You're not bigger than the team. You're not bigger than LSU."
He still hasn't heard from Mathieu. But Landry has heard from plenty of others, asking "What happened to your little bro?" and "What happened to your little cousin?" It drives him crazy.
"I feel I could have reached him in a positive way," he said.
Landry still wants to mentor Mathieu. He still wants to hear from him.
"But you can't help someone," he said, "who didn't want to be helped."
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