Retirement not on Mathis' mind as he prepares for 2015 season

Posted Jun 2, 2015

Cornerback Rashean Mathis is keeping his focus on the present, and right now that means getting ready for the upcoming season.

Rashean Mathis will turn 35 years old in August. In NFL years, after 12 seasons, he’s an elder statesman.

When he signed a two-year contract earlier this offseason, almost everyone assumed it would be the final contract of his career. Even Mathis had that mindset ... until just recently.

"I think I've got a new outlook on it because, sometimes when you look at the ending, you can look forward to the ending a little too much and don't really appreciate what today brings," he said Monday at the Charlie Sanders Foundation golf outing at Knollwood Country Club in West Bloomfield. "And I think that's where my mindset needs to be, on today and what it brings."

Rashean MathisCB Rashean Mathis (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Mathis said he had an epiphany of sorts a few days ago and is no longer looking at his career as almost over.

"It was just maybe two or three days ago that I got this reality check, because I'm a business guy, I'm a prideful guy, so I want to be at my best," he said.

"And I think switching my mental (approach) will allow me to be at my best because, two years ago when I came here, I wasn't looking at the ending as an ending, and I think that's why I was able to play very good football. And I don't want anything less out of me. So I think it could be, but mentally, I have to look at it a different way."

Mathis certainly hasn’t played the last two seasons like a man on his way out the door. He’s been the Lions’ most consistent cornerback in each of the last two seasons and was rated among the top 12 players at the position by Pro Football Focus last year.

He’s also been an important mentor to fellow cornerback Darius Slay, helping to mold him on and off the field into one of the better young cornerbacks in this league. Mathis plans to take on a similar role with incoming rookie Alex Carter.

"That’s part of the game. That's why we're here. That's why I'm here," Mathis said. "That's the role I accepted after I kind of felt myself no longer (being) a young guy, and I've been trying to get better at it as the years have gone by and, hopefully, I've been able to do that."

Mathis estimates that it’s been about eight years since he could be considered a young guy in this league, but insists he still has some life left in his legs. Mathis said coaches have even floated around the possibility of an eventual switch to safety to prolong his career.

Head coach Jim Caldwell said it’s never wise to bet against Mathis when he sets his sights on something.

“I’d listen to him if I were you,” Caldwell said. “He’s been there (at safety) before. Very unique guy. There’s just not many guys that still have the speed (and) the desire to play at his age.”