It has been well over two years now since the New York Giants traded Jason Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the star pass-rusher remains as motivated as ever to show his former team that the deal was a mistake.
With the Bucs set to travel to MetLife Stadium to face the Giants on Monday night, Pierre-Paul told reporters on Friday that the “game definitely means something special to me.” He also noted how his former teammate, Eli Manning, is no longer New York’s quarterback. Pierre-Paul is not planning to show Daniel Jones any mercy.
“Eli’s not there no more, so I won’t have to pick him up and say ‘Eli, man, you good?’ I’m coming for their necks, man,” Pierre-Paul said, via Greg Auman of The Athletic. “They know that. Jason Pierre-Paul ain’t going nowhere. I’m going to Monday Night Football and going to destroy the Giants. That’s what I want to do as an individual. But I still have love for them.”
The Bucs have faced the Giants each of the past two seasons, but Pierre-Paul did not play in the game last season due to a neck injury. He says he was nowhere near full strength in the first matchup because he had multiple MCL injuries. He’s now “fully healed” and ready to show the Giants they never should have given up on him.
“You already know they made a mistake,” Pierre-Paul said. “When I left there, I got 12 1/2 (sacks) that year. When I came back from a broken neck, I got 8 1/2 that year. And I’m having an amazing season this year. It’s not that I’m trying to show them they made a mistake. It’s just a fact that I know I wasn’t washed up or finished up. So this (Monday), I have to show them. It’s my old team.”
Pierre-Paul is right that he is having a great year. He has 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in seven games. His play is one of the main reasons the Bucs are 5-2, as their defense has been better than advertised while Tom Brady and the offense attract most of the headlines.
You can understand why Pierre-Paul is so fired up with the way he’s playing. Many believed he would never take the field again after he blew off part of his hand in a gruesome fireworks accident years ago. JPP then injured his neck in a car accident last year, though fortunately it was not as serious as it could have been. Every Sunday he’s on the field must feel like a treat, so those emotions are magnified when playing the team that traded him.