Former Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul now has two Super Bowl rings to his credit after reaching the pinnacle with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers last month. That equals the number of career-threatening injuries he has overcome in the past six years.
Pierre-Paul joined Zach Gelb on WFAN this weekend to talk about his latest Super Bowl victory, after winning it all with New York in 2012 (coming against Brady, now his teammate), and talked about the motivation behind his ability to get back on the field following a fireworks accident in 2015 and a broken neck suffered in a car accident in 2019.
“Easy man, my dad,” Pierre-Paul said. “I tell his story all the time. He’s been blind since I was born. From there, he didn’t complain at all. If he wasn’t complaining, how could I complain about some fingers that were missing? I was still walking. For people that aren’t, I’m really sorry, but you’re still alive. There’s a blessing in everything. That’s how I live my life every day.”
Pierre-Paul’s father Jean has never been able to see his son on the gridiron in the typical form, having went blind due to a blood problem before Pierre-Paul turned one year old, but he has had more of an impact on Pierre-Paul’s playing career than any coach, teammate or mentor, especially when injuries began to threaten the 32-year-old’s career starting with the July 4 accident in 2015 that led to Pierre-Paul having multiple fingers fully or partially amputated.
“Everything I say comes through him, and what my dad had to go through,” Pierre-Paul said. “If I had a role model, it’s my dad. He had to lose friends, his friends dropped him. Those not true friends dropped him when he went blind. But those things you have to go through make you a better person. All my adversity and everything comes from him. He’s the one who made me, and at the end of the day, I look up to him big time.”
Pierre-Paul overcame his hand injury and totaled 15.5 sacks in 2016 and 2017, helping him sign a four-year deal with New York (similar to the one the team rescinded after his fireworks accident) before he was traded to Tampa in 2018. A familiar face arrived last offseason in Brady, and of course the discussion of Super Bowl XLVI came up when the two met as teammates, as Pierre-Paul and Brady looked back on what was another upset victory for the Giants over Brady and the Patriots.
“We talked about it, but it wasn’t nothing,” Pierre-Paul said. “Brady is a good quarterback. I respect him…there’s a certain way he carries himself. Even Eli [Manning] too. They’re kind of similar. The only difference is Brady has more rings, and Eli has two. But at the end of the day, Eli came to work. Just watching those guys helped me a lot.”
Pierre-Paul’s second Super Bowl victory carries a special meaning after the injuries he had to battle through, one less than two years ago, but he also never forgets his first, which helped make him a fan-favorite with the Giants.
“I can’t compare it man,” Pierre-Paul said. “New York was so good to me and I’ll forever love New York City. That was my first and everyone knows how hard I worked to get that championship, and the team as well…New York is one of the few places where fans that know you everywhere you go. They stick to you, they’re loyal…I got a lot of memories there.”
Listen to Pierre-Paul's full interview with Zach Gelb below!
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1