Chiefs’ Mathieu apologizes for calling KC fanbase ‘toxic’

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Terry McLaurin, Tyrann Mathieu, Mike Hughes

Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) reaches out but misses the catch as he covered by Kansas City Chiefs free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) and cornerback Mike Hughes (21) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu apologized Saturday for a tweet calling his team’s supporters “one of the most toxic fan bases in all of sports” amid a disappointing 3-4 start for the two-time defending AFC champions.

The All-Pro safety, who is in the final year of his contract with the Chiefs, was replying to a tweet from teammate Anthony Hitchens on Friday. The linebacker had pointed out that Kansas City has been to three AFC title games, two Super Bowls and delivered the club’s first championship in 50 years in his three years with the club.

“Y’all fans will never be satisfied,” Hitchens concluded. “It’s sad!”

Mathieu said after Saturday’s practice that his tweet was “a mistake” and that he “shouldn’t have used those words.” He also said that he didn’t want to be a distraction ahead of Monday night’s game against the New York Giants.

“I haven’t had the season I’ve wanted to have,” Mathieu said. “As a team, we could say the same. You know, frustration tends to build up. Obviously, people that really know me — teammates, people that I deal with in the community, even fans that I happen to come across at the gas station — I think all of these people can see me being a genuine person.

“Obviously, I shouldn’t have used those choices of words. I think I’m man enough to admit that and really own that. So, just looking forward to playing better, doing better and I think most importantly, not being a distraction to my team.”

The Chiefs are last in the AFC West, a division they have dominated in recent years. The biggest reason has been one of the worst defenses in the NFL — defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s unit is 26th against the pass, 27th against the run and 28th overall while allowing 29 points per game.

Hitchens, who has been ruled out for Monday’s game with a triceps injury, has taken his share of criticism. He carries the green dot on his helmet that designates him the on-field play-caller for the defense, and his role as the middle linebacker is to plug the gap in the run game and occasionally drop back into coverage.

Lately, second-round pick Nick Bolton has played well in Hitchens’ place. The rookie out of Missouri had 15 tackles and four for loss in last week’s lopsided loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Mathieu has been among the most popular Chiefs since signing his $42 million, three-year deal, becoming a Pro Bowl regular and one of the league’s best safeties. And while he made it clear during the offseason that he hoped to sign an extension to stay in Kansas City, the sides so far have been unable to come to an agreement.

“These are emotional guys that love being Chiefs. They take a lot of pride in it and they take pride in each other,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, when asked about how players such as Mathieu respond to fans on social media.

“They protect each other, they do that whole thing,” Reid continued. “I do tell them that’s a dangerous area, though. We make that very clear. You’re really just talking to one guy, but now you’re talking to the whole world. So, we’ve got to do a better job with that in this case. I think Tyrann just told you that. That’s how we address them prior to it, during training camp. We try to educate them on that. That’s a tough deal though, as you know, in this day and age.”

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