What occurred to Jason Pierre-Paul’s hand? Professional Bowl profession rebuilt with Buccaneers after fireworks accident
Jason Pierre-Paul has played in a Super Bowl in his career. That was a Giants win against Tom Brady in February 2012.
Pierre-Paul is a win away from another Super Bowl appearance. This time Brady is his team’s quarterback.
The 32-year-old defender ends his third season with the Buccaneers after eight years with the Giants. That year he posted 9.5 sacks, bringing his three-year Tampa Bay total to 30.5, and JPP also reached for his first two interceptions since 2013 this season. Perhaps Pierre-Paul isn’t quite the player he was in his New York days, but he’s still a batsman on a strong line of defense working with Ndamukong Suh, Shaq Barrett and Vita Vea.
Even more noticeable to some casual football fans, Pierre-Paul is now nearing the end of the sixth season he has played since injuring his right hand in fireworks in 2015. After a possibly career-changing accident, JPP remains one of the most feared bag artists in football. After being appointed to the Pro Bowl 2020, such continued success could also lead Pierre-Paul back to the Super Bowl.
What happened to Jason Pierre-Paul’s hand?
On July 4th, 2015, Pierre-Paul gathered with his family and friends to celebrate Independence Day. He bought $ 1,100 worth of fireworks to go and all but one batch went off without a hitch. The last fireworks display didn’t do anything the first seven times Pierre-Paul tried to start them, he told Sports Illustrated in 2016.
There was a flash and a boom on the eighth attempt. Pierre-Paul didn’t notice anything until someone yelled to look at his hand.
“I look at mine [right] Hand and I see every tape, ”said Pierre-Paul to SI. “You only see this stuff in the movies.”
Pierre-Paul was immediately taken to the hospital because, according to the SI, “blood was spilled everywhere”. He doesn’t remember much from the hospital, but he did remember telling the doctors, “Whatever you do, don’t cut my hand off.”
The first emergency surgery on Pierre-Paul involved more than a dozen needles in the hand and skin grafted from the forearm onto the palm. A doctor told the mother of Pierre-Paul’s young son that his career was likely over.
Pierre-Paul was rushed to a Miami hospital where fears of an end-of-career injury disappeared. But he had to stay in the hospital for more than two weeks, undergo 10 surgeries and lose 30 pounds in the process.
As part of the procedure, Pierre-Paul had his right index finger amputated. This is the most noticeable difference between his right and left hand – one finger less.
“I could think about it, damn it, I wish I had that finger,” Pierre-Paul told SI, “but when I look in the mirror, I’m happy. Thank goodness – it could have been worse. “
Jason Pierre-Paul’s career after fireworks
Pierre-Paul didn’t return to the field for the Giants until week 9 of 2015, and he fought with just one sack in his first eight games on the field. But he bounced back over the next two seasons, first with 7.0 bags in 12 games in 2016 and then 8.5 bags in 2017. It was a decrease from his 12.5 bags in 2014, but it was more like old Pierre-Paul.
The Giants committed Pierre-Paul to an extension of four years in the 2017 off-season, but sold him to the Buccaneers in 2018 for design capital. He had his best season after the fireworks in 2018, at least in terms of sacks, at 12.5. An off-season car accident limited Pierre-Paul to 10 games in 2019, but in 2020 he played all 16 games again.
A staple of Pierre-Paul’s game over the past few years was that he didn’t want to leave the field despite having aged and dealing with other injuries. He played at least 78 percent of the snaps in any game in Tampa Bay in 2020, and typically approached 90 percent of the snaps. Defensive linemen rarely stay on the field without being spun as often, but Pierre-Paul values his time in the game, perhaps more than most.
“The reality is, when is the rest time when you play football? Especially when you’re trying to win a game,” said Pierre-Paul in November. “Personally, I won’t come out unless I feel like I have to come out. I think me and my trainer bump into it a little – he’s always trying to look out for me – but I’d rather stay in, because I know that in the heat of the moment anything can happen in seconds. “