Jason Pierre-Paul: What is his legacy?

How will people remember Jason Pierre-Paul? Will they remember him as the guy who helped lead a Giants’ defense to a Super Bowl win, or the guy who blew 1 1/2 of his fingers off in a firework accident? As we are preparing for 4th of July, let’s look back on one of the most tragic events of recent memory in the NFL world.

On July 4th, 2015, Jason Pierre-Paul was celebrating our country with some friends and family, just as plenty of us do. Pierre-Paul was of course setting off fireworks in celebration of the holiday, and was lighting them himself. Pierre-Paul failed to light one of the fireworks correctly, and it essentially blew up in his face. He is lucky to have only suffered the injuries that he did, as there are many other accidents that result in much worse than JPP’s case. Pierre-Paul was obviously rushed to the hospital, with his good friend Tarvarus Jackson behind the wheel. In an interview Pierre-Paul did in 2016, he recalls thinking to himself, “Damn. I really messed up.” as he was pulling up the hospital in his hometown of Deerfield Beach, Florida. Pierre-Paul would go on to lose all of his right index finger, half of his right thumb, and a small part of right middle finger in the accident. One may say, “Pierre-Paul should retire after a brutal accident like this,” but Pierre-Paul disagrees. Nothing was going to stop Pierre-Paul from getting on the field at MetLife Stadium (except a trade due to his ridiculous contract).

That following season, Pierre-Paul was back on the field, this time with a massive club on his hand. He was eager to contribute. That season, Pierre-Paul recorded 7 sacks for a Giants team that went 11-5, and appeared in the playoffs for the first time since their Super Bowl 46 win. It appeared the club had some advantages aside from the obvious disadvantages. Pierre-Paul now had an extra few inches to use when trying to swat an attempted pass. It wasn’t all a bad situation, and it appeared Pierre-Paul had learned to adapt to his unfortunate ordeal, and was back into his normal self on the football field. But how will fans remember him when it’s all set and done?

Well, for many fans, whenever they hear the name “Jason Pierre-Paul”, they may think… “Oh the guy who blew his fingers off.” But for Giants fans like myself, we will always remember Jason Pierre-Paul as the guy who recorded 16.5 sacks in the 2011 season, and helped lead us to our fourth Super Bowl championship. A guy that played with heart every play regardless of the situation. More importantly, a man of the community that represented Giants’ football in the most accurate way. But obviously, that may be a little bias due to the fact that Giants fans have a different view on Pierre-Paul. What outweighs the other? A horrible firework accident that resulted in a mangled hand, or the things Pierre-Paul did on the field? Let’s take a look at some Pierre-Paul’s accolades and achievements on the field.

Jason Pierre-Paul is a 2x Pro Bowler, 1x time All-Pro, and most importantly a Super Bowl Champion. An anchor to the Giants defense for 7 years, Pierre-Paul certainly left his mark on the Giants along with the NFL. In his career so far, Jason Pierre-Paul has recorded 433 tackles, 58 sacks, and 16 forced fumbles.

It’s no secret Pierre-Paul has the talent, but is it enough to be remembered as the player he was on the field rather than the man who blew his fingers off? Although many fans may disagree about what legacy Pierre-Paul left when it’s all set and done, we can all agree on one thing. So far, Pierre-Paul’s bounce back from the horrific accident has been absolutely remarkable.

As Greek Philosopher Epictetus once said, “It’s not about what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

It will be interesting to see how Jason Pierre-Paul performs on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018. JPP will be along side Gerald McCoy and rookie Vita Vey in what should be a terrorizing defensive line.

The best part of it all is, there’s still more football left in the tank of Pierre-Paul.

Happy 4th of July!