There is a variety of ways NFL players find their weekly motivation for the games. Still, perhaps none of those ways are more powerful than a player who was shipped out of town by his former team and who is now about to make his return to his old stomping grounds to show his old team what they gave away.
That appears to be what's driving Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants' first-round draft pick in 2010 who was traded by current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman after the 2017 season along with the Giants' fourth-round pick (No. 102 overall) to the Bucs for a third-round pick (No. 69 overall which became defensive lineman B.J. Hill) and a fourth-round pick 9No. 108 overall, which became quarterback Kyle Lauletta).
In comments made to the Tampa Bay beat writers Friday, Pierre-Paul didn't hold back when asked about his former team, vowing to "come after their necks."
Pierre-Paul led the Giants in sacks four times during his time here, in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2017, twice recording double-digit sacks in a season.
In his eight years in New York, Pierre-Paul appeared in 111 games with 85 starts, recording 432 total tackles, 87 tackles for a loss, 13 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, 58.5 sacks, 109 quarterback hits, 47 passes defended, and two interceptions.
Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who was the team's defensive line coach in Pierre-Paul's final season as a Giant, said that his one-time pupil is a "different human being walking among us," a nod not only to Pierre-Paul's football skills but also because he overcame two significant injuries, including a sports hernia injury and the more severe fireworks accident that permanently damaged his right hand.
"Whether it’s his movement skills, his skill level that’s improved as he’s gotten older. I see him contort his body into different positions and be able to come out of it," Graham said.
"You can just see some of the players I’ve seen cross over on film of how his skill level is improving like you would assume as you get older."
Graham also enjoyed Pierre-Paul's playful personality.
"He was a guy who was funny, kept the room light--different personality than me, so sometimes that bumps heads because I’m so serious all the time and he could joke around a little bit more. It was a pleasure to be around him. I’m really happy for him, happy for his family. I’m sure he’s happy being closer to Florida.
"For him to go through what we went through and be able to come back out of it and having success. Whatever the numbers are with sacks."
Graham shared his fondest memory of Pierre-Paul, which happened during the team's 2017 road game at Dallas.
"It was the national anthem down there in Dallas. It was a Sunday afternoon game. He could tell I was like, ‘oh, this is Dallas-Giants, this is a little different.’ He looked at me and said, ‘It’s a little different than other games you’ve been in, huh?’
"I laughed and then that game, the first three quarters he was playing okay, he made a few plays. When that fourth quarter came on and he turned it on, I looked at him and I said, ‘Oh, you are different.’ He said, ‘I told you, coach.’"
Come Monday night, don't expect Pierre-Paul, who also said that he still has love for his old team, to be laughing too much, maybe outside of some pre-game pleasantries, he'll likely exchange with Graham.