The addition of DE Jason Pierre-Paul was one of the splashiest off-season moves made by GM Jason Licht. The trade Licht pulled off didn’t just instantly upgrade an unproductive defensive line, but it also brought an enormous amount of intangible qualities that you want in a football player that cannot be taught.
In a recent one on one interview with Buccaneers reporter Casey Philips, Pierre-Paul described his emotional desire to just go to college, and not necessarily pro-football so he could take care of his family. He went on to explain,
“I just wanted to go to college… In order for me to go to college. I’d have to do something. You know my mom didn’t have the funds to pay for my college. [My high school football coach] Coach Taylor I thank him till this day.” Pierre-Paul starts crying and continues, “I thank him till this day because he was the guy that actually gave me the chance to actually get to college. I thank him… College was very important, but I was doing it all for my mom, my family, my dad.”
Casey Philips then said, ” You are known as just one of the hardest workers on the team, and a leader in the locker room.”
Pierre-Paul cut her off saying, “I am the hardest worker on the team.”
He went on to explain that a combination of the injuries he sustained to his right hand during a firework accident just a few years ago and seeing the happy life his father lived after becoming blind for most of Pierre-Paul’s life molded him into the player and man he is now.
Without a doubt Jason Pierre-Paul’s work ethic is unquestionably high, and as a result to his approach in Tampa Bay he has emerged as a leader on a defense that has struggled in recent years. His 12.5 sacks led the team in 2018, and is the first time any Bucs player has reached double-digit sacks since Simeon Rice posted 14 sacks in 2005. Those 12.5 sacks though are no big deal to him, and wants more.
It is this mentality that HC Bruce Arians will without a doubt build his team around to change the losing culture in Tampa Bay. If the Bucs are to change their losing ways it will be because of players like Pierre-Paul who are setting the standard of what it means to have great work ethic and drive to win. As when players like him set the standard, other follow. The encouraging part is they are already starting to.