A year and a half ago Jason Pierre-Paul had no idea if he would ever set foot on a football field again. After a car accident left him with a fractured neck, playing football again was likely the farthest things from his mind.
Fast forward to Tuesday night and not only has Pierre-Paul made it back on the field, he has done it at a Pro Bowl level, after being named the lone Bucs player to be given the annual honor.
On Wednesday Pierre-Paul talked about his journey.
“It’s been a long road, but the reality is it just made it more fun for me,” Pierre-Paul said. “The challenges weren’t really challenging – it’s just the fact that you have to have a mental state of mind that you can do whatever you put your mind to. That’s what I did. Still, now I’m catching picks, I’m in the 3-4 defense, dropping, rushing the passer like I never did before, playing the run great – I’m just doing everything I can [and] I’m just having fun with the game. That’s basically what I’m doing.”
While Pierre-Paul appreciates being recognized for his individual play – a year where he leads the Buccaneers with 9.5 sacks to go along with four forced fumbles and two interceptions – he said there is a much more important goal.
“It’s a blessing from God. The reality is, I’ve still got more work to do,” Pierre-Paul said. “I’m not finished yet. My main goal was to get in the playoffs and run the table to get to the Super Bowl. I feel like with the team we’ve got, we can do that. Thanks to the Pro Bowl, but my main goal is to get to the Super Bowl this year. Once I get there, then I’ll be able to tell the whole story. Right now, isn’t the time to tell the story – it’s a long story to tell. For everybody that’s going through something right now out there, just know that everything is possible. Just believe in yourself.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org