Tyrann Mathieu has always dreamed of going head-to-head with football legend Tom Brady, and as the newest number on the Houston Texans roster, his wish is finally becoming reality. The former Arizona Cardinal officially made the move to Houston back in April after landing a draft via free agency during the offseason, and last month’s season opener at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., against the New England Patriots was surreal. “He’s pretty much one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, and I’ve always wanted to play against him,” Mathieu says.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Mathieu sees his move to H-Town as a Southern homecoming, and after his time out in Arizona, he’s not at all fazed by the triple-digit temperatures during afternoon practice, either. “My first and only connection to Houston was during Hurricane Katrina—my family and I evacuated to Humble and lived there for about three to four months,” the 26-year-old remembers. “I love being down South. It’s a different kind of feeling: The people are nicer, the food is better, and there’s so much more to really do and experience.” For Mathieu, both in his pro-athlete career and in his personal life, everything seems geared toward the positive, and that’s exactly the kind of guy you want on your team.
With the season now fully underway, Mathieu’s got a packed schedule training for big games against powerhouses like the Cowboys, the Eagles and the Dolphins, so there’s little time for breaks. His wakeup call is 6am, followed by a 7am gym session. Then there’s team practice at NRG Stadium until evening rush hour. On the rare off day, it’s all about recovery. “I’m a homebody, so I do a lot around the house as far as maintaining my body. It’s never a true rest day, and [the team is] really hungry. There’s a sense of urgency,” he says of this season in the locker room. With guys like J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and DeAndre Hopkins counting on you, the pressure is understandable. “The guys are highly committed to trying to win this season, [and J.J.] is a beast, to put it simply. He’s usually the first in the building and one of the last to leave.”
Still, Mathieu does find time to decompress, and he takes pride in maintaining a serious sense of style. He’s a regular at Tom Ford in River Oaks District and can also be seen slipping into VIP doors at boutiques in the Galleria. “I really go off my mood and how I’m feeling. I can dress like my age; I can dress like my success; or I can do both.” Mix that with a serious sense of purpose—this fall, his Tyrann Mathieu Foundation opens its first Tech Zone, a technology resource center for financially disadvantaged youth, in Arizona—and you’ve got a champion.
“All throughout my life I’ve had people helping me, and I always told myself that if I was ever that fortunate, I would do my best to give back. I think kids can get misguided, and if we can give them the resources, then we can give them a chance to make it.”