While the Giants' coaching staff lavished praise on Jason Pierre-Paul on Friday morning, the Tampa Bay linebacker and former pillar of the Big Blue defense took a far less diplomatic approach.
As blustery and gregarious as he was when he was a defensive end on the Giants, Pierre-Paul said that though he harbors no ill feelings toward his old team, he knew exactly what he planned to do to them when they faced his Buccaneers Monday: "I’m going to destroy the Giants," he said, with a wide grin.
"I’m happy to play Daniel Jones," he said. "Eli [Manning] is not there anymore, so I don’t have to pick him up and say, ‘Eli, man, you good?’ I’m coming for their necks, man. They know that. Jason Pierre-Paul ain’t going nowhere. I’m going to Monday Night Football and I’m going to destroy the Giants. That’s what I want to do as an individual, you know what I mean? But I still have love for them."
Pierre-Paul lamented missing Week 3 against the Giants last year – he was sidelined with a neck injury and the Buccaneers lost by a point – and otherwise wanted his old team to know that they made a mistake when general manager Dave Gettleman traded him in 2018. The Giants shipped him off just after his 29th birthday, but Pierre-Paul’s production actually went up, despite the broken neck from in a car accident in May 2019.
"You already know they made a mistake," Pierre-Paul said. "When I left, I got 12.5 [sacks] that year and when I came back from a broken neck, I got 8.5 that year, and I’m having an amazing season this year. It’s not that I’m trying to show them that they made a mistake, it’s that I knew I wasn’t washed up."
Meanwhile, the Giants coaches who spoke about Pierre-Paul on Friday – only one of whom actually coached him when he was on the team – all seemed very aware of what he’s done these last few years.
Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who worked with Pierre-Paul as a position coach: "He’s a different human being walking among us."
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who saw him plenty as a Giant when he coached for the Cowboys: "He’s a hell of a player…[I have] the utmost respect for him as a player."
And finally, head coach Joe Judge: "JPP is playing at a high level right now…I see him playing with a high motor."
And, to be fair, Pierre-Paul said nice things, too. He still hoped "things work out for the best" for the Giants. Just, you know, not on Monday.