He had just listed his 10.5th sack of the season, marking his first four-poster sack total because a fireworks accident almost ended his career at 2015.
“That kid’s got f–ing heart,” said Simeon Rice, the last Bucs participant to record double-digit sacks in 2005, who had 122.0 in his livelihood. “Look at what he has been through. It is bigger than football. It is who he is in his core. The fabric of this man will not let him concede.”
Pierre-Paul tried to downplay the accomplishment, but he was humbled by Rice’s praise, even after the Bucs’ first win in four matches, a 27-9 success against the 49ers (2-9).
“It means a lot… but to tell the truth, I’m not actually looking for sack documents,” explained Pierre-Paul, that has 68.5 sacks in his career. “I’m just playing good ball, attempting to get my teammates going. I appreciate the love.”
It was just 3 years back that Pierre-Paul pleading to not cut his hand off following the fireworks accident and was being wheeled into emergency operation.
Even though the injury is, as Pierre-Paul puts it,”way above,” it has an effect on his on-field play. If he leaves an injury to a match — such as the knee issue he has dealt with because Week 1 which forced him to leave the match of Sunday — he makes every attempt to return and press on. He understands what it’s like to have football taken away.
“That’s why I’m able to tolerate as much pain — it’s due to my hand,” Pierre-Paul explained. “Like my knee for me, for another guy, it’s totally different. … I always say,’As long as I complete the game, I’m OK.’ I put myself out there, and it’s all for the team. That’s just anything you need to call it or me personally, in spite of a banged-up knee. It is just a mindset. Nothing but easy pain — that’s it.”
The Pierre-Paul who was traded to the Bucs this offseason to get a third-round draft pick (the Bucs and Giants also swapped fourth-round picks) wasn’t known for being much of a talker or a locker room leader at New York. But with Tampa Bay, he awakened in front of teammates throughout training camp and recounted the night that his NFL dream almost ended.
He advised them,”Don’t ever take anything for granted. … You will never know if this could be your last play.”
Defensive tackle Beau Allen said at the time,”It was certainly one of the very memorable [speeches].”
That moment wasn’t lost on Allen, and he and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy huddled around Pierre-Paul’s locker to observe the veteran’s accomplishment on Sunday.
“Listen, I’ve been here a very long time, OK? And for me to see this happen is quite special,” McCoy explained. “He’s going to downplay it. I’m not. Really special — something we have not seen in a long time. This dude deserves everything coming his way, and that I love him.”
Teammates have said they value Pierre-Paul’s work ethic, fighting outlook and spirit. He’ll tell you that he absolutely hates losing matches, but he considers it a privilege to be able to go daily to work.
“I’m positive, man. I had a life-changing encounter,” Pierre-Paul explained. “I constantly look at things in a favorable way. At the day’s conclusion, football is just a football match. It is all the memories which you may collect by doing it.”
They stood, and he surely produced a special one — albeit a one — for Bucs fans on Sunday and cheered.