Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul nearly cost himself his hand in a fireworks incident last 4th of July, and he seems intent on ensuring that he doesn’t have to deal with anything like that again.
Pierre-Paul told Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News that he’ll be far away from any 4th of July celebrations in 2016 – very far, in fact.
Jason Pierre-Paul on his 4th of July plans: "I won't even be in the United States. Where I'm going, they don't celebrate 4th of July."
Probably for the best. Pierre-Paul probably isn’t that tempted to play with fireworks after last year’s incident, but why not get as far away from them as possible? No temptation, no rekindling bad memories. Seems like a reasonable move.
Jason Pierre-Paul signed a one-year deal with the New York Giants this offseason in hopes of proving he is worthy of a long-term extension, and the two-time Pro Bowler intends to do just that.
On Tuesday, Pierre-Paul told reporters he considers himself to be in the best shape of his career. He also revealed that he is getting a new custom glove for his surgically repaired hand and expects to have his best season in 2016.
JPP says he's in the best shape of his career #giants
Jason Pierre-Paul has finally opened up about exactly what happened the night he mangled his hand in a fireworks accident, and the details will almost certainly send a chill up your spine.
The photos are even worse.
In an extensive interview with Jason Buckland of Sports Illustrated, Pierre-Paul described the terrifying events that took place on July 4, 2015. Like he has done every year since he was a teenager, JPP purchased a large amount of fireworks so that he could put on a display for his neighborhood to enjoy. It wasn’t until he was lighting one of the last ones that disaster struck.
Pierre-Paul recalls having trouble lighting the firework that ended up costing him much of his right hand. More from Buckland’s feature:
He attempted seven times to apply flame to fuse, to ignite a stick that would send a stream of colors rocketing into the night, but the wind kept blowing out his lighter. He remembers thinking, Let me try one more time. . .
Suddenly, success—and then an eruption, a bang and a blinding green-and-white light that, witnesses say, swallowed Pierre-Paul’s 6′ 5″, 278-pound frame. “I remember a big flash, and I heard boom!” says Farraw Germain, the mother of Pierre-Paul’s then eight-month-old son, Josiah. “There was a lot of smoke.” Pierre-Paul sensed trouble right away. “As soon as I saw the green light, I jumped,” he says. “I knew something dangerous was about to happen.”
Pierre-Paul dropped to the grass. But when he arose he smelled nothing, felt nothing. Then he heard Germain shriek in terror, “Your hand!”
He glanced down. The street had gone black again, but Pierre-Paul could make out a sight far more gruesome and shocking than anything he’d ever glimpsed on a football field. “I’m looking at my [right] hand and I’m seeing every ligament,” he recalls. “You only see this stuff in the movies.”
After that, Pierre-Paul remembers a friend rushing him to the hospital. He says he unwrapped the shirt around his hand several times to peek at the damage, and what he saw was “how the hand really is without skin on it.” Farraw Germain, the mother of Pierre-Paul’s son, was initially told by a doctor that JPP’s NFL career was “almost certainly done.”
The entire piece is worth reading. While he had several moments where he thought to himself “what have I done,” Pierre-Paul says he has no regrets.
“I have no regrets at all,” he explained. “I carry myself differently. I look at things differently. I try not to put myself in horrible situations anymore. I have a lot of people depending on me—even people I didn’t know depended on me.
“I could dwell on it, like, damn, I wish I had that finger, but when I look in the mirror, I’m happy. Thank the Lord — it could have been worse.”
The Giants were said to only want Pierre-Paul back if he would play under a one-year “prove it” contract, and it sounds like that is going to happen. While the 26-year-old struggled at times to make tackles (video here) after returning from his fireworks mishap, the team was complimentary of the progress he made and said to be “pleasantly surprised” by the way he performed under the circumstances.
Pierre-Paul lost his entire index finger on his right hand and part of another finger. He is still technically in his prime, so it would stand to reason that he has a lot of good football left if he can learn to play with his surgically-repaired hand. JPP already has plenty to prove after listening to cruel jokes like this for the past eight months. Now he gets to do that in the place where his career began.
All things considered, it is actually quite impressive that Jason Pierre-Paul was able to play during the 2015 season. The guy did lose an entire finger and part of another, after all.
While speaking to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday, Giants general manager Jerry Reese praised Pierre-Paul for returning so quickly from his fireworks mishap.
“After you look at that injury, I think it’s a miracle that he was able to walk out there and play for eight games for us,” Reese said, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “It’s really unbelievable after you really see what happened to his hand.”
Pierre-Paul is set to become a free agent, and it’s unclear how much of an effort the Giants will make to re-sign him. He underwent an additional surgery on his middle finger last month that is aimed at improving his grip.
“We know him better, I think, than anybody else would know him,” Reese added. “So, we’re hopeful that this procedure that he had after the season helps him … I know he’s working hard at it.”
The thing Pierre-Paul has working in his favor is that he is just 27. While he clearly struggled at times last season to make tackles with his hand in a cast (video here), it would not be a surprise if JPP got used to playing with his surgically-repaired hand and returned to form at some point.
Pierre-Paul is seeking $15,000 in damages, making us wonder the reason for the suit.
At the time, Pierre-Paul blew off part of his hand messing with fireworks on July 4 (here’s what the hand looks like now). There was some dispute over the extent of his injuries, so Schefter took it upon himself to share the medical chart, which was shared with him by a hospital worker.
Most agree Schefter went too far by posting the medical chart instead of just reporting the news. Given his reputation, very few would have doubted the accuracy of his report. The chart was unneccessary. Even Schefter told SI later that he “could have and should have” done even more due to the sensitivity over the matter.
Jason Pierre-Paul struggled a bit when he returned to action after his fireworks mishap, but that was to be expected while he was playing with nine fingers and a cast on his right hand. Overall, the New York Giants were encouraged by his performance.
Pierre-Paul recorded just one sack in eight games, but he finished fifth in the NFL with 41 total quarterback pressures during that span. While there were times when it appeared he was struggling to make tackles (video here), things could have been worse for JPP considering the severity of his injury.
The Giants are expected to let Pierre-Paul test the open market, and it would not be a surprise if some other team is willing to take a chance on the 27-year-old and hope he can return to his pre-injury form. Should that happen, New York is unlikely to break the bank.
As one NFL writer pointed out with an incredibly cruel joke, the Giants have a high pick in the draft and are in position to replace Pierre-Paul with a quality pass-rusher. That may be the safest bet at this point.