Pierre-Paul hungry to play against Giants

by Gary Shelton on October 31, 2020

in general

Pierre-Paul reacts to the crowd./TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Time and again, he has been buried.

Throughout his career, the NFL has given up on Pierre-Paul. It has discarded him, counted him out, tried to move on from him.

And still, you can find Pierre-Paul with his arms wrapped around the nearest quarterback.

He is the amazing Pierre-Paul. Blow up his hand with a firecracker, break

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his neck in a car wreck, cut his pay and move him out. It doesn't matter. The next year, once again, Pierre-Paul will still be making that wide turn around a tackle and heading for the passer.

At 31, Pierre-Paul is tied for fifth in the NFL in sacks with 5.5. If his rate continues, it would be the fourth year he has had double-digit sacks, the eighth in which he has had at least 10 quarterback hits. He has been around long enough to sound like he should be old, but he is playing as young as ever.

Monday night, he will take aim at his former team, the New York Giants, the team that traded him for a third-round draft pick to the Bucs back in 2018.

"I'm coming for their necks, man," Pierre-Paul said Friday. "They know that. Jason Pierre-Paul ain't going nowhere. I'm going to Monday Night Football and I'm going to destroy the Giants."

Pierre-Paul swears there is "no bad blood" with the Giants, but he also says "you know they made a mistake."

It would seem so. Even last year, when Pierre-Paul played in only eight games, he had 8 1/2 sacks.

"It's amazing," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians. "I think we have a good program for him right now -- when he practices, taking care of himself and making sure he gets to the game healthy and ready to go.

"You would never have guessed (his hand was injured) with the way he uses his hands in the pass rush. He's a genetic freak, really, with the way his neck healed last year. I didn't know he'd be able to play again. Then, to come back and I think that first play, he got a sack. That's just JPP. He brings it every play."

Pierre-Paul says he doesn't think about the times his career has been threatened.

"I feel like when I'm on the football field, I'm here and I've made it," Pierre-Paul said. "I told myself if I ever were to get back on the field again, I wouldn't complain about the small things like somebody stepping on my feet or missing a tackle. I'm just going to go out and play the game and have fun like a little kid. Twice, it could have been taken away from me, but it's a special gift and God gave it to me."

Twice before, Pierre-Paul could have faced the Giants but was hurt.

"I'm trying to see what I can do," he said. "I really know what I'm going to do, but I want to see."

Pierre-Paul, too, is feeling that this could be a special season for the Bucs.

"We know it's a Super Bowl team, but at the end of the day, it's the work you put in," Pierre-Paul said.

Arians knows. Fans are behind a team if it wins. The talk of a Super Bowl can stop in a hurry.

"I think you embrace it because you're earning it," Arians said. "It doesn't mean anything. You've got to show up in practice. It takes just one loss and you're back in the toilet."

The Bucs, after all, did find a way to lose to New York last year when then-kicker Matt Gay missed a winning field goal.

This time, the Bucs and Giants will play at 8:20 p.m. on Monday night.

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