This is simply not the way to handle it. Not in any way, shape or form. And he must make this right. Now.
Jason Pierre-Paul, the New York Giants’ Pro Bowl defensive end, has been at home in South Florida trying to rehab from a horrific firework accident that occurred on July 4. Since that day, the Giants have not seen their best defender and pass rusher in person.
Let me repeat that last statement for clarity… the Giants have not physically seen Jason Pierre-Paul since before his accident.
The magnitude of that statement is truly mind-boggling. I cannot truly understand why a young man, who is not currently under contract (but has made his entire fortune with the the Giants), has not allowed his team to see him, or to work with him as he recovers from serious injuries.
As a result of the fireworks accident, it has been widely reported that Pierre-Paul broke his thumb and had to have his right index finger amputated. There may be even more damage, but no one really knows since no one has seen him since the accident.
And more importantly, no one knows what solutions Pierre-Paul has come up with to compensate for these injuries, specifically the loss of one of his fingers. No one knows where his head is at. No one knows if he is in shape or getting out of shape, or if he can even work out at all. No one knows if he can still be the dominant sack artist he has been.
No one knows… anything.
And that is the problem. For the life of me, I cannot understand why a young man, who is looking for a multimillion dollar contract from the Giants, has not reported and worked with the team to resolve and move forward in an effort to get back on the field. I get that he wants to make sure he is 100 percent before he returns to the team, you’re your finger has been amputated bruh… so 100 percent is out of the question!
I think Pierre-Paul’s approach is reflective of a new generation of athletes who feel as though they may be entitled to these opportunities instead of understanding that they are a privilege. They are earned in partnership WITH the team, not something that comes with talent as a birthright.
Pierre-Paul’s accident also points to a bigger issue that is happening with young athletes. He was not the only player this offseason that injured his hand in a fireworks-related accident. He was not the only player this offseason that did something unnecessary and caused injury to his body and ultimately cost him money. He was not the only person who made questionable life decisions that created problems for him.
Pierre-Paul is, however, the only player that cut off access to his employer, and told them that he would report when he felt he was “ready to contribute.” This is an admirable statement, without question, but not business savvy in any way. Without an analysis of the injury, the Giants not only don’t know whether they will have their star defensive player back this year, but also whether they will have their star defensive player back at all.
Pierre-Paul has shown no allegiance to a team that has been extremely supportive to him at a time where the franchise has no reason to be. When he arrived in New York, he was generously listed as a “project” player, and taken fairly high in the draft considering his limited experience. He was placed around supreme talent and nurtured to be great. And he became just that… great. However this greatness was achieved through a gamble from an organization that saw something in him and took a chance. For JPP to not take that same chance on the Giants, that they would help him, and that they would invest in real solutions for him, is a bit crazy.
From a purely business perspective, the Giants would not be at fault in any way, if they just moved on. They need to have another strong defensive end on their roster, and they have no idea if they have that in Pierre-Paul. I’m not sure how much longer they can wait. Through their first two preseason games, the Giants have watched most of their secondary get hurt in some fashion, the biggest being rookie Mykkele Thompson, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles. With a back end that is limping its way to Week 1, and a completely untested group of defensive ends trying to fill the gap, the Giants need to decide if they should go a different route. And they have been more than patient with JPP.
The real miracle of this entire situation is that the Mara/Tisch family has not exploded with frustration. This is one of the few franchises that ride it out with their players, until that just simply isn’t possible (see: Plaxico Burress, David Wilson). They have always tried to understand the extenuating circumstances, and make adjustments accordingly. Whoever is advising JPP is advising him incorrectly. You don’t run from your mistakes and responsibilities when you are in trouble. You run towards them. That’s the one way out of your situation, by dealing with your bad decisions and the subsequent consequences head on.
“I’m beyond the point where I’m annoyed,” Giants co-owner John Mara told Mike Francesa, in an interview on New York’s the FAN. “I wish he’d handled it better but we’re beyond that. Do I wish he came here and had our doctors look at him? Yes.”
As co-owner of the Giants, Mara is one of the guys who sign the checks for the team, so it’s probably not a good idea that he is “beyond the point where I’m annoyed.” Instead of building trust, and concern coming out of a horrific accident, Pierre-Paul has created an unnecessary tension, amassed ZERO goodwill, trust and faith in his recovery and return to dominance. So you have to ask this question – Why on earth would the Giants pay JPP, if he is not the man he was when he left the field last December/January?
Wouldn’t it have made far more sense towards contract negotiations to make the guys signing the checks far more comfortable than they are right now?
JPP bet on himself, but it feels like he should have bet on his organization.
— Written by Lloyd H. Spence Jr., who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Spence has covered both high school and college sports for several years, and has written for several outlets, incuding ESPNLouisville.com and CardinalSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TalkinNOIZ.