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Two years later Pierre-Paul remains best reminder of fireworks danger

Florida Football Insiders

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Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

July 4th, 2015, former USF standout and later New York Giants Superbowl Champion defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s life changed forever for one reason: fireworks gone horribly wrong.

But, out of what could have been career ending tragedy involving his right hand, Pierre-Paul has made a comeback and is now a national PSA symbol for firework safety.

The beginning of his football story is the Deerfield Beach native of Hatian immigrant parents playing  as a Juco star in both California and Kansas. Then, he was brought back to Florida, by coach Jim Leavitt and stff, as USF’s dominant pass rusher in 2009. That year he attained All Big East honors with 6.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. This fast tracked Pierre Paul to the NFL after only one season in Tampa and he was drafted 15th overall by the Giants in the 2010 NFL Draft.

After a rookie year with 4.5 sacks, he burst on the pro scene in season two with 16.5 sacks for the G-men leading to a Pro Bowl selection and was part of the New York Superbowl victory over the Patriots that February.

Pierre-Paul continued to be regarded as the Giants most consistent pass rushing threat and had another double digit sack season with 12.5 in 2014.

Then came the off season of 2015, where he chose not to sign his one year Franchise Player free agent tender (the Giants still had his exclusive rights) seeking a longer term deal and remained unsigned as of July 4th that year.

That night in 2015 he loaded up a van with handheld amateur fireworks and with friends and neighbors began shooting them off until one obviously malfunctioned and mangled his right hand. Pierre-Paul was hospitalized and eventually had multiple surgeries on the hand and his right index finger amputated.

The Giants stood by him, when they could have dumped him for non-football injury, and he eventually made his way back onto the field in November of 2015. Signing a “pro rated” week to week one year deal, his debut came as New York traveled to Raymond James Stadium (Pierre-Paul’s USF home for a season) and he played with a padded “club” protecting his right hand against the Bucs.

That’s pictured above.

He would play in eight total games that season with one sack and then, as further proof of the Giants being in his corner, they re-signed him on a one year $10 million deal for 2016. Pierre-Paul then worked a year ago with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on a July 4th fireworks safety video:

The gnarly image and video of Pierre-Pauls right hand is obviously the deterrent the agency is looking for with the PSA campaign about safety. He played 2016 with a special padded glove to protect the hand/fingers registering another seven sacks before being placed on I.R. with a sports hernia.

Finally, and happiest of all financial endings after the fireworks disaster, Pierre Paul inked a four year $62 million deal with $40 million guaranteed in March to stay in New York.

And while it all worked out in the end, obviously, the Jason Pierre-Paul July 4th fireworks mess could have had a much different ending all the way around.

Stay safe Tuesday night. Leave the handheld fireworks to someone else.

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Antonio Brown agent Rosenhaus- “not sure we’ve exhausted all options”

Florida Football Insiders

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The ongoing off-field mess involving new Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown, his outdated helmet and his refusal currently to participate in their training camp, has ties to South Florida.

That’s where Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus resides and he gave an update Sunday night on the situation from Browns point of view to WSVN TV. Rosenhaus is a weekly guest on their Sunday night “Sports Xtra” show during the football season and obviously Brown and his helmet issues are one of the top off the old topics in the NFL right now:

“I’m not sure that we agree that we’ve exhausted all the options, as Mike Mayock said. But there’s no doubt it’s still an ongoing process. We are trying to work with the team and the league and the union to come up with a solution. We haven’t figured it out yet,” Rosenhaus told the show.

He continued, “To say that AB is upset about the decision to not let him wear his helmet is accurate, but we’re still processing it and figuring it out. I wouldn’t make too much about him not being there today, as much as we’re still trying to come up with a solution that works for everyone.” 

Brown is balking at having to switch to a new modernized helmet from the Schutt Air Advantage model helmet that he has been wearing throughout his nine-year NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The NFL contends that that helmet is outdated, too old and not safe. And, they denied Brown’s request to continue to use the helmet, when he filed a grievance with the league last week.

The only exception is: that if Brown can find a newer model of the helmet( less than 10 years old) and the NFL says that it will test it and potentially certify him to play with it. As of yet, Brown has not found a model that is within the guidelines and passes the test. So, Brown is back refusing to participate in workouts with his new team, the Raiders.

He is shown in the photo above, participating in pregame warmup last Thursday night with the Raiders in Arizona, while wearing the outlawed helmet. Brown did not play in the exhibition game.

On Sunday, Mayock, the Raiders new GM, who along with head coach Jon Gruden engineered the offseason trade for Brown from Pittsburgh to Oakland, publicly repeated frustration that Brown is refusing to come in practice with his team, that’s now in the fourth week of training camp.

Mayock told the Oakland media Sunday afternoon,

“You all know that A.B. is not here today. So here’s the bottom line. He’s pretty upset about the helmet issue,” Mayock said. “We have supported that. We appreciate that. But at this point, we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in or all out. So we’re hoping he’s back soon.”

Brown is from Miami Gardens and is a former star at Norland High School in Miami. He later went on to great success at Central Michigan and was picked in the sixth round by the Steelers in 2010. Brown is a seven time Pro Bowler and a four time first team All Pro and is regarded as one of the two or three best receivers in all of the NFL.

Almost all of the NFL players have switched over to the compliant newer football helmets and the league even created a special Sports Science Department that specifically to tests helmets and studies impact/head trauma.

Brown is part of a small group of players that have been “grandfathered in” during previous seasons to allow them wear the older helmets. That group includes, Patriots QB Tom Brady and Saints QB Drew Brees. However, the helmets have had to continue to undergo testing, and the league has now decided if they’re more than 10 years old they cannot be used in games.

That’s the issue with Brown.

The league wants the players to use a more modernized and safer helmet and Brown will not agree to do that for, now. However, he went through the mandated arbitration system and lost his appeal last week.

A Monday morning update from Napa California is that Brown is back at Raiders training camp and was in their team meeting.

However, it’s unclear if he intends to practice with a different helmet, etc.

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NFL announced Wednesday Pro Bowl back in Orlando

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is obviously happy with Orlando as its location for its postseason Pro Bowl All-Star Game, and they demonstrated that again on Wednesday morning.

That’s when the league announced that for the fourth consecutive year the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl will be played at Camping World Stadium the weekend before the Super Bowl:

For the last three years, the All-Star game has called Orlando it’s home, and there’s no doubt that football fans in Central Florida (and all over the country) have enjoyed coming to Central Florida to be part of the festivities that week.

However, the game itself has come under increasing criticism, and rightfully so, as the players involved seem less and less interested in it actually being a football game.

In fact, we went so far as to say that the NFL should stop playing the game, as it has devolved into a mockery of what a “football game” should look like. Here’s part of what we wrote last January:

At the risk of being criticized for being reactionary or even like Clint Eastwood and “Get off my lawn,” no one can defend any longer what we’re seeing, as anything that resembles a football game.

No you can’t defend something that used to be at least an aggressive and fun All-Star Game featuring the NFL’s best players, but that has devolved into a farce.

A farce where no one wants to block, much less tackle anyone.

This was on full display from the beginning of the game on the dreary damp Sunday in Orlando. This as, handoffs would go to running backs, who would run into the massive bodies at the line where players were not blocking the players in front of them. And, the referees would eventually just blow the whistle with everyone standing around.

Quarterbacks would throw the ball down the field to receivers, who were running 3/4 speed against defensive backs who were running a 3/4 speed and both might, or might not, try to make the catch or play on the ball.

Yes, there was an occasional moment, where are you saw flashes with a significant throw or runner would break free, but make no mistake: what the Pro Bowl has become, gradually over the last few years, and now on full display Sunday, is not football.

It’s not even close.

Nonetheless, the Pro Bowl will continue and be televised again this season by ESPN on Sunday afternoon January 26th. The Super Bowl will be played the following week in Miami at Hard Rock Stadium.

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