After Jason Pierre-Paul permanently disfigured his hand in a July 4, 2015 fireworks accident many, including yours truly, figured Pierre-Paul would never be a dominant NFL player again. If, that is, he could play at all.
Now, Pierre-Paul is coming off a 2016 season during which he was outstanding before suffering a season-ending core injury. Former Giants defensive end Justin Tuck told me during a phone interview Wednesday that he is “not surprised at all” that Pierre-Paul has returned to elite status.
Tuck, in fact, said that in retrospect the fireworks incident “might have been the best thing that could have happened to him.”
“It’s easy for people to doubt people when something like that happens to you. Honestly, I think it might have been the best thing that could have happened to him. He’s come back a changed person. Football aside, his focus (is) on being a better person,” Tuck said. “His being a father now has changed his mindset about what he goes and does. He’s tremendously more focused now, he’s tremendously more driven. I think he has a chip on his shoulder from the perspective of proving people wrong. A lot of people voiced their opinion about his career being over after that hand incident.”
Defending Eli Manning
Tuck won two Super Bowl rings with Giants quarterback Eli Manning. He still believes the 36-year-old, entering his 14th season, can win big games.
“I really do believe Eli still has a lot left in the tank,” Tuck said. “Mentally he’s probably one of the sharpest people I know from a football mind perspective. He just knows how to win. He has that gene or whatever you want to call it to make the right throw, the right play in those pressure-packed moments. He’s proven that throughout his career.”
Draft Kings Challenge
Tuck was promoting his involvement with the Draft Kings Billion Dollar Lineup Challenge, where any player who drafts the perfect Week 1 lineup will win $1 billion dollars.
Tuck will have his own league, appropriately called “Justin Tuck’s League.”