In 2009, Jason Pierre-Paul (JPP) was a junior on the USF Bulls football team. Lee Roy Selmon was the inaugural member of the newly created Buccaneer Ring of Honor. Who would have thought that 11 years later Pierre-Paul would be a member of the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl champion squad in that same stadium. Or, possibly making a case for himself to be included in that Ring of Honor one day.
The Long Way Home
Pierre-Paul didn’t even play football until his junior year of high school. A four-year letterman in basketball. After a leg injury, Pierre-Paul started tinkering with the pigskin. A move Buccaneer fans are quite thankful for.
As a college freshman in 2007, he would play football in California. Transferring to Fort Scott, Kansas his sophomore year. Recording 70 tackles, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered. It was after this solid sophomore campaign that Pierre-Paul would transfer to the University of South Florida. To a team that was really starting to put its program on the college football map.
JPP (Part I)
When USF defensive line coach Kevin Patrick went on a recruiting trip to see Pierre-Paul, he was a bit surprised. “Hey, coach, look at this,” Pierre-Paul yelled after practice. The 6’6, 260-pound lineman did a standing backflip—in full pads and helmet.
On a USF roster that produced 11 NFL draft picks and a total of 14 NFL players overall, Jason Pierre-Paul stood out. The New York Giants selected Jason Pierre-Paul at #15 in the 2010 NFL draft. The same draft that saw Ndamukong Suh go to Detroit at #2. With the Buccaneers taking Gerald McCoy at #3. That draft had some talent on the defensive line.
JPP, The Haitian Sensation
In 16 games his rookie year, Pierre-Paul would have 24 solo tackles and 4.5 sacks. Injuries in 2011 to Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, would increase Pierre-Paul’s playing time dramatically. Starting 12 games that season, he led the team with 16.5 sacks and as a result was selected to his first Pro Bowl.
In a December game against the Dallas Cowboys, he recorded two sacks (one for a safety), forced a fumble, and blocked a field goal. Therefore Becoming the first player in NFL history to record a sack, force a fumble, and block a kick in the same game. That 2011 season ended on a high note with Pierre-Paul playing a role in the Giants victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
JPP (Part 2)
You would be hard pressed to find anybody that would argue the mindset Pierre-Paul has brought to the Buccaneers since being traded here in 2018. You might have a harder time finding anybody who would argue what a huge steal the trade was for the team. Jason Licht gave the Giants a third round pick, and swapped fourth round picks for Pierre-Paul . That year, he started all 16 games, recorded 58 combined tackles and led the team with 12.5 sacks.
On March 17th, 2020 the ecstatic Pierre-Paul announced on Twitter (here) that he had just signed an extension for another two years. This was just days before the team would announce the signing of Tom Brady, but already, the vibes in Buccaneer land were getting lit. After a 2020 season in which Jason Pierre-Paul showed up big. At one point, leading the team in interceptions. With the history this kid has here in Tampa Bay. From USF, to Buccaneer defensive leader, to an integral member of the victorious Super Bowl LV team, the question of Ring of Honor eligibility should be asked.
There are no written rules to what qualifies a player for a coveted spot in the Ring of Honor. As a result, everybody is a possible candidate. A twenty year-old Pierre-Paul could not have known just how intertwined his football career and Tampa Bay would be. But the two are one. And this is why Buccaneers fans could find the name Jason Pierre-Paul in the Buccaneers Ring of Honor one day.