The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a splash this offseason by trading their third and fourth-round picks in exchange for New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and a fourth-round pick.
Needless to say, Pierre-Paul has come a long way from the fireworks incident that nearly ended his career. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, he got choked up when discussing the topic during his introductory press conference with the team:
“Sorry, I get emotional when I talk about my injury. Sorry,” he said, removing his glasses and wiping his eyes. “My injury — what I learned from my injury was that I’m unstoppable, man. I thank my dad for that because my dad, he’s been blind for 29 years, and he never complained, not once. From that, I know I’m unstoppable. It’s going to take a helluva lot for me to get off that damn field … sorry for cussing. So basically that’s what it is.”
Jason Pierre-Paul had suffered a severe fireworks accident prior to the 2016 NFL season that left his hand mangled and without a right index finger. While the injury was not life-threatening, there was speculation regarding how it would affect his performance on the field.
Fortunately, the former two-time Pro Bowler was able to come back strong and has now registered 121 tackles, 15.0 sacks, and five forced fumbles over the past two seasons. The former South Florida product also now finds himself closer to home in Tampa Bay with a Bucs team that is expected to seriously contend in the NFC South in the 2018 NFL season.