Many wrote off New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul after the infamous fireworks incident in 2015 claimed multiple fingers on his right hand. One person who was in his corner the whole time was former teammate Justin Tuck.
Tuck was there when Pierre-Paul burst onto the scene and recorded a 16.5-sack season in just his second year in the league in 2011. Having seen him play both before and after the incident, Tuck feels Pierre-Paul’s perseverance has made him a better player.
“What I love about Jason is adversity hit with the accident and everybody kind of wrote him off,” Tuck told SNY Monday. “I think he’s actually a better player now. And I say that from the perspective of he’s learning how to utilize all of his abilities. Whereas before I think he was more of a … one-trick pony is not the right word. I think he was relying on the one or two things that he did really, really well. I think now he’s become more of a complete player.”
Pierre-Paul did enjoy a strong 2016 season, despite only playing 12 games. A groin injury ended his season prematurely when he slipped on the turf at Heinz Field in Week 13 and he was unable to return for the Giants’ late-season run.
Tuck was big on mentoring Pierre-Paul when he came into the league in 2010, similarly to how Michael Strahan showed Tuck the ropes when the latter debuted in 2005.
Tuck announced his retirement ahead of the 2016 season but one of the changes he sees in Pierre-Paul’s game is off of the field.
“”What I love about him is just how his character has changed,” Tuck said. “How he’s focused, how he’s put things in perspective in his life. That bodes well for him. So yeah, I really feel confident in him being the leader going forward. He has a lot of help around him as well. Obviously, I did too. That part of it’s important. But yeah, I definitely feel confident in him being able to get the job done.”
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