Yesterday, Crystal Ball Run told you about a newly released Sports Illustrated article which, put simply, implied that former LSU All-American cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and his friends from high school used Mathieu’s likeness to promote parties at clubs and other events. If the report is found to be true, it could put Mathieu’s future eligibility at the school in jeopardy (he’s suspended for this season but could return in 2013), as well as put the school itself in jeopardy, depending on if any current players (namely sophomore Anthony Johnson) used their likeness to receive any extra benefits too.
Safe to say it’s definitely a story that’ll be worth watching going forward.
It’s also a story that the Mathieu family didn’t seem to think much of. And to their credit, they’re not letting Sports Illustrated get away with it without a fight.
On Tuesday night Fox8 News down in New Orleans caught up with the Mathieu family, who, umm, didn’t have very nice things to say about Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans, the two writers who penned the story, or on Sports Illustrated itself. The Mathieu’s- who refused to participate in the article- told Fox8 they were harassed by the Sports Illustrated writers, to the point they had to hire an attorney to get Thamel and Evans to back down.
Tyrone Mathieu say Sports Illustrated refused to accept their decision not to be interviewed for the story.
"They called from blocked numbers repeatedly, asking me why I was dodging them," Tyrone Mathieu said. "They came to my home and that of my elderly mother on multiple occasions."
Tyrone Mathieu hired a law firm last week to attempt to stop SI's interview requests. The letter from Irpino Law Firm in New Orleans is addressed to Peter Thamel and Sports Illustrated and reads in part, "You have been consistently harassing Mr. Mathieu and his family regarding personal issues. Mr. Mathieu informed you that they have no desire to respond to your inquiries. Despite repeated assertions of this position… you have trespassed on the Mathieu's property and otherwise violated their privacy… Demand is made that you cease and desist from any attempts at making contact with Mr. Mathieu or any member of his family."
What might be even more interesting however, is a quote that Shelia Mathieu (Tyrann’s mother) made later on with Fox8, when she said, “They twisted things and cobbled together details from past articles because we wouldn't sit down with them.”
Hmm, if Mathieu’s allegations are true, that’s some great “reporting” done by these two.
Of course, it also isn’t the first time that the tactics of both Evans and Thamel (who once worked together at the New York Times) have come into question. As a matter of fact, it’s not the first time they’ve been accused of flat-out harassment.
With Evans, it came amidst the Cam Newton saga, where he made no secret of his distaste for Newton, and spent a good part of the season around both the Florida and Auburn campuses trying to dig up dirt on the eventual Heisman Trophy winner. Evans’ pursuits unofficially ended when his phone number ended up on an Auburn message board, where he himself likely ended up on the other side of some harrassment. Yes, that happened. With Thamel, he’s had any number of bouts with the Kentucky basketball program (amongst others) to the point that many in Kentucky seem to think he has a personal vendetta against the school. Then again, when you look at the number of UK hoops players he's tried to dig up dirt on, it's not really a surprise their fans feel that way.
Regardless, we will find out soon whether or not Tyrann Mathieu or any of his LSU teammates broke any of the NCAA rules Sports Illustrated has accused him of.
But credit to the kid’s family for protecting their son and standing up for themselves.
For all his opinions, articles and analysis on college football and beyond, follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.