The Honey Badger and The Landlord: The Dichotomy of Tyrann Mathieu's Two Personas

Whether the Honey Badger or The Landlord, Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu's relentless pursuit of greatness has propelled the Chiefs defense to another level.
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After falling to the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots in the 2018 AFC Championship game in Patrick Mahomes' first season as starting quarterback, the Kansas City Chiefs were faced with a decision.

Following the heartbreaking defeat, the team made several moves on the defensive side of the ball in order to surpass their 2018 finish. Kansas City opted for a new look as they fired then-defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, traded away defensive end Dee Ford and cut defensive end Justin Houston and safety Eric Berry.

The Chiefs brought in Steve Spagnuolo to take over as defensive coordinator but the biggest move might have been the free-agent signing of safety Tyrann Mathieu. But what they probably didn't know when they signed the 5-foot-9, 190-pound safety was that they would get two types of players.

Known as the Honey Badger and most recently The Landlord, Mathieu has shown different personalities and play styles in his short time in Kansas City. From being personable and friendly in media sessions to being relentless and chaotic on the field and in his Mic'd Up videos, Mathieu has shown the ability to flip a switch when it matters — much like his defense.

He said in his media availability on Wednesday there isn't a certain time or point in warmups when the metaphorical switch is flipped, but that it's a mindset that evolves throughout the game.

"I think it kind of happens through the course of the game," Mathieu said. "I think the most important thing is you just try to keep your composure while maintaining high energy. I think that's always the challenge. But any time you step on the field, you've just got to put it in your mind that everybody is out to get you and you've got to stand up for yourself and make a play for your team."

Mathieu's longer-serving nickname, Honey Badger, has followed him to Kansas City from Baton Rouge where he was a stand-out at Louisiana State University. But who is the Honey Badger?

Fellow defensive leader defensive end Frank Clark, who was also acquired by the Chiefs in the same offseason Mathieu, did his best to explain who the Honey Badger is without giving too much away.

"So I'm going to break it down to you this way without talking about it too much because we keep that confidential too," Clark said. "The Honey Badger is going to make plays, he's going to go out there and sacrifice his body, he's going to make extreme, crazy interceptions. His mindset is always stuck on kill. The predator. Take over. He is very territorial."

In the wild, honey badgers are known for their strength and persistence and the fact they are difficult to deter. Honey badgers "savagely and fearlessly attack" almost any other species. 

When defeat seems imminent to larger predators, the honey badger doesn't back down as they've been seen repelling much larger predators, such as lion and hyena.

Mathieu, much like the wild honey badger, doesn't back down. In a clip from Inside the NFL from the AFC divisional round, Mathieu was shown taking on Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Wyatt Teller. While Teller had seven inches and 125 pounds on him, Mathieu attacked and even though he didn't win the matchup, he made sure to pop up and let Teller know his team won the battle.

That was the Honey Badger.

"I think the Honey Badger is just so emotional," Mathieu said. "He's high-strung. He wants to make every play. I would probably say that's really the difference. The Honey Badger is highly emotional and I think The Landlord is more so collected. He knows what everyone is supposed to do and he knows where he's supposed to be. But the Honey Badger, once the ball is snapped, he's just like, 'go get the ball.'"

To counteract the wild and emotional version of himself, Mathieu added his newer persona: The Landlord. According to Yahoo Sports' Terez Paylor, the word "landlord" stuck in his head when thinking about Chiefs Kingdom.

As Kansas City was preparing to take on the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football, Mathieu dubbed himself The Landlord on his Twitter account, and that's when the popularity of the name began to grow.

"I think The Landlord is more reserved," Mathieu said. "I think he's more collected. I think he's all about the team, all about the group."

Clark was a bit more animated in his description of Mathieu's Landlord handle. When it comes to The Landlord, Clark said, it's all about getting what's his.

"Then you've got The Landlord," Clark said. "He demands his rent. Just like any other landlord, you come on his field you must leave it clean. He don't want to be dirty. The Landlord wants to be clean. The Landlord demands plays. The Landlord has to make plays and you have to pay for it. So at the end of the day, if that don't describe him, then I don't know what else does."