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Father-son bond carries New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul at Super Bowl

INDIANAPOLIS — Start with his incredible quickness at the snap. Watch his athletic charge toward the pocket. Watch as he twists, and spins and slides his way free. Then watch the incredible burst at the end as he closes in on the quarterback.

Yeah, he is something to see, this Haitian Sensation.

What a shame his father cannot.

He has arrived in a blur of colors, Jason Pierre-Paul. He is still learning the game, and already, he is one of the stars of it. Even on a team with a great front four, even in a league filled with amazing athletes, Pierre-Paul can take over a game and turn it into his personal highlight film.

And yet, his father has never seen a play except for the ones he has imagined.

Jason had not been born yet when his father's vision began to blur, and by the time he was eight months old, the darkness was upon Jean Pierre-Paul. To this day, doctors do not know why Jean lost his sight.

"My dad never quit no matter what," Jason said Tuesday. "He couldn't see, but he never let that stop him. Most people, when something like that happens, they just think their life is over. But that's not true. My dad can still do things like a normal person. He still cooks, he still watches my sister and my brother's baby when my mom's not home.

"What I bring to the table to help my team is that I'm never going to quit. I'm going to keep rushing the ball until the whistle blows and it's the end of the game. That's how I'm going to keep playing."

Some lessons are handed down from father to son. This is one of them. The obstacles don't matter. The determination to overcome them does.

There is a relentlessness to Pierre-Paul, the former USF star who has become a Pro Bowl player with the Giants. He will tell you that he is still learning, that he has a lot of improvement left in him. After a 16 ½-sack season, the thought of Pierre-Paul getting better should make quarterbacks shake across the league.

"Jason never fails to surprise me," teammate Justin Tuck said. "Everybody knows about the guy's physical talents. He's an absolute beast. But what I appreciate about him is that he comes into the film room every day and tries to grow as far as noticing how teams try to attack him. Raw talent will only get you so far. He's become much better mentally."

Is it supposed to be this easy? Pierre-Paul only started to play football as a high school junior when he grew weary of the coaches at Deerfield Beach — about 40 miles north of Miami — urging him to do so. He was a basketball player then. He didn't know much about this football except that it looked rough. He thought he might have to play wide receiver.

His coaches had a better idea. They lined him up and pointed him toward the backfield.

"I didn't know what I was doing," Pierre-Paul said. "All they said was to rush the quarterback."

There are easier jobs to learn as you go. Defensive ends tend to get punched in the mouth and cut at the knees and double-teamed and shoved and pushed and held. But Pierre-Paul managed. He went to school in the morning, and to practice in the afternoon, and to work at Boston Market in the evenings to help pay the rent.

"We all helped," Jason said. "It was rough journey, but I'm here."

It was a roundabout journey, too. From Deerfield Beach to the College of the Canyons in California (where he had 14 sacks) to Fort Scott Community College (where he had 10) to USF (where he had 16 ½ tackles for loss).

"USF gave me a chance to show what I can do," Pierre-Paul said. "(Former) Coach (Jim) Leavitt came and got me. He told me he was going to do that when I was in high school."

Ask the Giants about Pierre-Paul's athleticism, and his teammates just shake their heads. For instance, there are the backflips. Pierre-Paul has done as many as 23 of them in a row. Still, you don't flip over an offensive tackle. Who saw Pierre-Paul develop this quickly?

"He's going to be a great player for a while," teammate Osi Umenyiora said. "He's going to be one of the great ones."

These days, everyone knows his name. He is JPP, the Beast, the Haitian Sensation.

Also, he is his father's son.

"Every day was the same with my dad and me," he said. "We would laugh and giggle and talk in Creole. My dad understands what I do. Coming from Haiti, the only football they know is soccer. But after the game, I'll call home and get their two cents about the game. It's fun, because he just starts explaining what I did in the game and how the other team lost. He's got it down pat now."

Sunday, for the first time, Jean Pierre-Paul will be at his son's game. Jason isn't sure how he will react to the crowd and the noise, but he knows his mother will talk of how he is playing.

"He's going to have a good time," Jason said.

Of course, that depends on how good a time Jason has. For the Giants, nothing is more important than the pass rush getting to Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, and there isn't anyone more important than Pierre-Paul.

"I'm just going to approach the game like I've always approached it and go out there and dominate," Jason said.

If that happens, a father wouldn't have to see to enjoy.

Father-son bond carries New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul at Super Bowl 01/31/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 11:07pm]
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