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Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott empathizes with Jason Pierre-Paul

Ronnie Lott watches training camp in Hempstead.

Ronnie Lott watches training camp in Hempstead. Photo Credit: AP, 1994

CANTON, Ohio - Ronnie Lott speaks from experience when he tells Jason Pierre-Paul that not only can he overcome the amputation of his index finger, but that he can become an even better player because of his ordeal.

"I think it will be something that will galvanize him and get him to understand his purpose for playing," said Lott, the Hall of Fame safety who had half of his left pinkie amputated after the 1985 season because of complications resulting from a fracture. "In his case, he'll do fine. He'll be a great football player and I think he'll have a great career."

Pierre-Paul suffered severe injuries to his right hand in a fireworks accident on July 4. He reportedly had his index finger amputated, and also had his fractured thumb surgically repaired. Pierre-Paul, who has not signed his franchise tender, has not given any indication when he might return to the Giants.

Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn said on Friday that the 26-year-old Pierre-Paul recently told him, "Coach, I'm good, I want to get myself right, and I'll be back."

Pierre-Paul hasn't reached out to Lott for any advice, but the former safety said he'd be glad to share his experience.

"If he does reach out, I'll tell him the same things I went through and that is, 'You can do it,' " Lott said. "A lot of times, you don't believe that you can, because any time you lose something on your body, there's a lot of doubt, for a host of reasons."

Lott said Pierre-Paul's biggest challenge will be psychological, not physical.

"The biggest adjustment is emotional and the reason it's the biggest adjustment is because there's always going to be something in his mind that's going to say, 'Am I able to do that?' " Lott said. "For me, there were certain things that I didn't know if I was going to be able to do."

Lott believes Pierre-Paul will be a better player -- and a better man -- if he successfully comes back.

"You overcome those moments in your life where you realize, 'I'm going to overcome that,' " Lott said. "I'm sure in his case, there are some things that he doesn't know right now. The bigger question is it's almost like learning how to be able to say, 'You know what, despite all the things I've gone through, I'm still going to be great. I'm still going to lead the Giants in sacks.' He has to find ways to create those goals in his life right away."


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