Jason Pierre-Paul is getting ready for his fourth game back with the Giants. He could have been home getting ready for next year.
“It was an option,” the defensive end said on Wednesday of not playing in 2015 and rolling the dice on free agency this coming winter.
There are many reasons why he did not follow that path. Not playing would have meant no income for a year. It also would have meant not having any game film to present to prospective teams to show what he is capable of doing with his mangled hand.
But the big reason, he said, was because he saw the Giants and knew he could help.
“I knew my team needed me, especially on the defensive line,” he said. “I make a big difference.”
He hopes to for a long time, too.
“I’ve always wanted to be here,” he said of the Giants. “This is the team that drafted me and I would like to finish my career here.”
It didn’t always seem that way, especially in the days, weeks and months after his accident in which he had very little communication with the team and even blocked team representatives from visiting him in the hospital (although Pierre-Paul has since said that order did not come from him).
“At the end of the day, I’m here,” he said.
While he may want to remain here and has consistently referred to the Giants as “my team” since his return, he’s not sure what the future will hold. As for the present, though, he’s happy he made the decision to return.
“I could have [sat out the season], but I know deep down inside that I don’t give up, that I’m a fighter, I’m a strong human being,” Pierre-Paul said. “I already won. People said I wasn’t going to be here and I’m out here playing some great football and I can only get better. I don’t have anything to prove to anybody, I’m just trying to make myself a better player. Right now, I think I’m doing pretty good. People didn’t expect it, but I did.”
“I wasn’t going to sit out,” he reiterated. “I could have, but I didn’t. I’m here now and that’s what matters.”