Lions' Mathis links post-career plans to pro golf

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

West Bloomfield — Rashean Mathis has at least one thing in common with many Americans.

When he retires from his career, he wants to spend a lot of time on the golf course.

The difference, though, is that the Lions cornerback hopes to turn golf into a money-making venture, too.

Mathis, 34, has spent more time than he'd like to admit recently thinking about his retirement. He said he's even told some teammates that the 2016 season will be his last in the NFL because the two-year contract he signed in March will expire and he'll be 37.

After discussing the topic with fellow cornerback Bill Bentley this weekend, he said he's done looking ahead to the end of his long career.

"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 bit too much, and you don't really appreciate what today brings," Mathis said Monday at a golf outing for the Charlie Sanders Foundation. "And I think that's where my mindset needs to be on today and what it brings."

What it will likely bring for Mathis is more time mentoring the Lions' young cornerbacks, something he's done since he came to Detroit in 2013. Coaches praised Mathis last year for helping develop Darius Slay, and they expect him to lend a hand with third-round pick Alex Carter and sixth-round pick Quandre Diggs.

"That's the role I accepted after I kind of felt myself no longer a young guy," Mathis said. "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."

When Mathis begins to tutor Carter, he'll be working with someone he's known for the past decade. Carter's father, Tom, played cornerback in the NFL from 1993 to 2001, and Mathis said he's been a player advocate for the NFL Players Association since the Jaguars drafted him in 2003. With Mathis serving as a player rep for Jacksonville, his family grew close with the Carters.

"Just to see him grow as a person and the core values that they stand for, it's impressive, and Tom is a great guy," Mathis said.

As for Mathis, he realized that he'd grown into an older player, comparatively, about eight years ago. He'll be entering his 13th season in 2015, and after last season, he said he wanted to play at least two more years.

Perhaps, a move to safety could extend Mathis's career as it has for Charles Woodson, who's entering Year 18 at 38. Coaches have mentioned the idea to Mathis, but he'll worry about his current job.

And when he finally does retire, he hopes to lower his 4-handicap to have a shot at making it on some professional golf tour, insisting he'd look for something — Tour or Tour perhaps — before turning 50 and being eligible for the Champions Tour.

"I never had a coach so for me to take it serious and not take too much time away from the family for a year and to see where I could be, I would love to do that," he said.