New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul speaks to reporters for the first time since injuring his hand, during NFL football practice, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. Pierre-Paul hurt his hand while blowing up fireworks during July 4th celebrations. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
For the first time since a Fourth of July fireworks accident dismembered his right hand, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was activated Saturday afternoon. The decision comes two weeks after Pierre-Paul returned to the team following a four-month recovery. The lineman’s right index finger was lost in the explosion and parts of his thumb and middle finger were damaged as well. The 6-foot-5-inch pass rusher has been working out with the team for the last couple of weeks and is set for a return to the field this month after reportedly looking solid in practice. New York (4-4) is in the middle of the pack inside the NFC and could definitely use a spark to their lineup. How much Pierre-Paul will be able to give, however, remains to be seen. Only a few months removed from his hand injury, should Pierre-Paul return to the team this season? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Green: Why not? He’s been showing off in practice and defensive linemen have played with one hand before. In fact, how many times has a defensive player wrapped his hand up in a club and still dominated the field? He probably won’t be too much of a threat for interceptions, but his main job is to rush the quarterback and that’s something the ultra-athletic Pierre-Paul has always been able to do. Being limited to one arm won’t disrupt his suddenness, quickness or footwork and he’ll still use those attributes to be a terror defensively.
Riley: I agree that Pierre-Paul can return and still be as effective, I only challenge the timing of the move. He suffered severe damage to his strong hand and could potentially risk further complications to his hand playing so quickly. Players have had broken and severely damaged fingers before, but this incident was a lot more gruesome and painful. The 26-year-old is one of the top young players in the league and has several more seasons of dominance left in him but playing so soon after that type of injury might not be in his best interest.
Green: The hand will be heavily wrapped and secured against contact so Pierre-Paul should be able to play while keeping his hand safe. I would agree on sitting out a season for recovery if the Giants were absolutely horrible but the team sits 4-4 in a wide open division. New York has a good chance at winning the NFC East, and Pierre-Paul’s return would definitely add some sizzle to the team. Eli Manning is having one of the best seasons of his career and is fresh off a six-touchdown performance last week. Manning helped push the pace for a 42-point outburst from the offense but the defense allowed 52 points in an instant classic against New Orleans. New York is on the borderline of good teams, Pierre-Paul could help tilt the needle.
Riley: The Giants have been up and down for the past few seasons and Pierre-Paul’s return wouldn’t suddenly make them a more consistent team or help their offensive line block better or limit Manning’s mistakes. He’s missed all of training camp and hasn’t played a game all season which are dual ingredients for ineffectiveness for most players. When you factor in that he’s missing a finger it just all adds up to a rushed decision that puts Pierre-Paul in a tough situation. The season is halfway over and the 4-4 record is indicative of who the Giants have been all season. I don’t see how trying to add an injured player who hasn’t practiced or played all season or summer is going to make a significant difference on the team, no matter how talented that player may be—or was.