Jason Pierre-Paul has faced some uncertainty in his NFL career after a fireworks accident in 2015 severely mangled his right hand, and when asked about the injury Friday, the defensive end was emotional, fighting back tears.
July 4 will mark three years since the horrific injury nearly cut short his career. His index finger and part of his thumb were amputated, and he needed skin grafts to his middle finger. Despite the adversity, Pierre-Paul says the accident made him "unstoppable."
"Sorry, I get emotional when I talk about my injury. Sorry," he told reporters. "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 is LIVE at the podium for his press conference https://t.co/vRO7gDPyUH
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) March 23, 2018
Pierre-Paul quickly emerged as a threat with 16 1/2 sacks in 2011 and was expected to receive a huge extension after compiling 12 1/2 sacks in 2014, but that following offseason is when the accident happened.
"I'll tell you what: Being at your highest peak in the NFL, about to get a big contract and you think everything is to the top and I'm at the top of my game, about to be a free agent and something like that happened — unfortunately it happened — it's kind of sad. But at the same time, like I always say, I never, ever doubted myself that I would not play football again," he said. "I returned back, and I had one goal. One goal was I'm not missing a season, and I came back and actually finished that season."
Pierre-Paul played eight seasons with the Giants before he was traded Thursday to the Bucs, but his resiliency and will to keep fighting is what drew Tampa Bay to the defensive end.
"One of the attributes that we're looking for in players, that we talked about this offseason ... is resiliency," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said, per the team's website. "It's one thing that's been on our mind a lot, what we're looking for as a quality in a player, and Jason defines resiliency. To come back from what he did, it's one of the things — it's the main thing — that made him a big draw for us, why we would go after him."