Questions. We know Jason Pierre-Paul had his right index finger amputated on Wednesday. Five days after the New York Giants defensive end suffered serious injuries to hands in a Fourth of July fireworks mishap, that is all we know. Other than that, the entire situation remains a mystery?
When will Pierre-Paul be able to play again?
How will the loss of a finger affect him on the field?
Why has Pierre-Paul been so secretive, refusing to see Giants officials, turning down their offer of help, making them find out via the media that he was undergoing amputation, and not responding to concerned teammates?
How can the Giants possibly consider signing Pierre-Paul to a long-term deal after this fiasco, and the way he has shut them out?
For that matter, is it possible Pierre-Paul never plays for the Giants again?
What will happen with the $14.8 million franchise tag?
Were any privacy laws broken when ESPN tweeted a photo showing JPP being scheduled for amputation?
What was Pierre-Paul doing messing with fireworks in the first place?
Those are some of the obvious questions that come to mind, and there are probably many others. We don't real answers, but let's look deeper at some of those questions to see what we can ascertain.
When will Pierre-Paul play again?
We really have no idea. Amputation of the finger was "the best way for Pierre-Paul to heal quick enough to return to the field this season," a source told the Daily News.
Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reported Wednesday that "Pierre-Paul has a fracture in his right thumb and may have other fractures in his remaining fingers and hand." Cole's sources tell him that those fractures will take the longest to heal and could sideline him for six weeks.
"He was told that he could repair the finger, but it was probably going to take multiple procedures and even after all of that, the finger was probably going to be disfigured and not very functional, if at all," the source said. "Look, it's not easy to say, 'OK, cut it off.' But for what he's trying to do, play football, it makes sense."
Valentine's View: This timetable would, of course, open the possibility that Pierre-Paul could be on the practice field before the regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. I would not, however, count on that. All of this information is from unnamed sources, not the doctors treating him, and nothing official has been announced. It could be much longer. There is also the matter of how long it takes to regain strength in his hand and regain overall conditioning to enable him to play.
What kind of player will he be?
This is a matter of pure speculation. We, of course, won't know until he plays games and we see how he adjusts to the loss of a digit.
Dr. David Chao, former team doctor for the San Diego Chargers, thinks losing the index finger is actually a best-case scenario for Pierre-Paul.
If index finger amputation only injury, JPP @giants will have full recovery & play. Worry is what else injured, blast rarely contained.— David J. Chao, MD (@ProFootballDoc) July 9, 2015
My ranking of finger importance in a defensive end: 1) thumb 2) ring 3) pinkie (4th & 5th most important for power grip) 4) middle 5) index— David J. Chao, MD (@ProFootballDoc) July 9, 2015
Former NFL lineman Brian Baldinger believes Pierre-Paul will never again be a dominant player:
"The question [general manager] Jerry Reese, [head coach] Tom Coughlin and everyone on that staff is asking themselves right now is, 'What kind of player is this guy at this point?'" Baldinger said. "It's really going to change the way he plays. I don't see how in the world he can ever be a great player again. Ever.
"They have to be asking themselves ... what kind of player are they getting now? Are they getting a part-time player? Will he just be a shell of his former self? I don't think anybody really knows."
"He's not gonna come back and be dominant very quickly, I don't think. I really don't believe that at all," Klecko told The Post after being informed of ESPN's report that JPP's right index finger had been amputated following his ill-fated July 4 fireworks accident.
Klecko doesn't know of any defensive linemen who were forced to play with fewer than 10 fingers.
"It'll take him a long time to get strength back, and be able to grab and things," Klecko said. "I think it'll affect him a lot. The loss of a finger is a big deal. The index finger is one of the biggest fingers on your hands for grabbing, you know what I mean?
"Listen, all good defensive linemen — Ndamukong Suh, J.J. Watt — their hands are everything. And if you watched anybody that's worth a damn, their hands are everything, and I think it'll be a big deal."
What happens now?
Well, that largely depends on Pierre-Paul. Will he sign the $14.8 million franchise tag tender? If he does, the Giants would seem likely to put him on the Non-Football Injury list. If he is ready for the season opener the Giants could remove him from NFI, add him to the 53-man roster and move on. If he isn't, he would have to sit out a minimum of six games, during which time the Giants could choose not to pay him for each game missed.
If he does not sign the tender, choosing to hold out until he is cleared to play, he would still not be paid for any games missed.
The Giants could, of course, rescind the tender and make Pierre-Paul a free agent. That seems unlikely, but possible. The best course of action would be for the Giants and Pierre-Paul to get together, rationally discuss their options and come to an understanding that both sides can work with. Which leads us to the next point.
What is JPP's long-term future with the Giants?
I understand the fact that Pierre-Paul is not currently employed by the Giants, but I do not at all understand the wall that he and his representatives seem to have placed between player and team since the July 4 accident. What does he gain by slamming the door in the face of the team he has been part of for five years and could earn $14.8 million from in 2015? How can the Giants trust him long term if he refuses to communicate with him or accept their help, much less if he makes foolish, selfish decisions that put his health and his football future in serious jeopardy?
Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News quoted a mystified Giants official as saying "We don't really understand why they won't let us help him. What are they trying to do?"
I don't get it, either. Bleacher Report's Cole said Pierre-Paul's refusal to see the Gants "wasn't out of disrespect ... He didn't have time to deal with them?"
Didn't have time to deal with them? I can't buy that for a second, and I can't see any way the Giants don't take being rebuffed as a slap in the face.
There is a reason the Giants used the franchise tag on Pierre-Paul this offseason rather than rush to get their best defensive player to sign a long-term contract. In five NFL seasons, Pierre-Paul has had one great season and one good one. He has played a lot of mediocre football. He has undergone back surgery. The Giants still weren't sure this was a player worthy of a big-money, long-term commitment.
Dan Graziano of ESPN put it this way:
Long before Pierre-Paul got hurt playing with fireworks, the Giants had concerns about his history with health and inconsistency and wanted to wait another year before deciding whether to commit to him long-term. The current situation makes it less likely he gets that long-term deal next year, for reasons outlined in the next paragraph, but it didn't cost him a chance at getting one prior to the start of the 2015 season. That chance never really existed.
Steve Politi of NJ Advance Media called Pierre-Paul's wall of silence "a deal breaker." between he and the Giants, and wondered if the Giants could ever feel good about signing him to a long-term deal.
Pierre-Paul faces a lengthy period of physical recovery, then a period of adjustment as he learns how to do his job with one less finger. What may take even longer to heal, if it can ever be fully repaired, is the trust between Pierre-Paul and the Giants organization.