Locals enjoy success in NFL

Posted on 16 February 2012 by LeslieM

Deerfield’s Jason Pierre-Paul celebrates winning Super Bowl. Submitted photo

By Gary Curreri

Two years ago, Deerfield Beach’s Jason Pierre-Paul was a relative unknown.

The 23-year-old Deerfield Beach High School graduate was a first round draft pick in 2010 for the New York Giants (15th overall). Now he has quite a resume starting with Super Bowl XLVI champion after the Giants held on to defeat the New England Patriots, 21-17, recently.

“It didn’t really hit me until the parade,” said Pierre-Paul, a 6’5”, 278-lb. defensive end, named to the Pro Bowl this season despite not being on the ballot. “It is a great feeling. I’m having a great time. I am soaking it all in until it is ready to go again for next season.”

Pierre-Paul had a breakout season this year as he was named to the Pro Bowl after he recorded 65 tackles, 16.5 sacks, a safety and two forced fumbles during the 2011 season. Pierre-Paul became the first player in NFL history to record a sack, forced fumble and blocked field goal in the same game in a 37-34 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 11. With injuries plaguing the Giants’ starting defensive ends, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, Pierre-Paul received a significant amount of playing time, including 12 starts.

Pierre-Paul’s father, Jean, who is blind, took in his son’s Super Bowl performance in Indianapolis in person.

“I talked to him about it,” Pierre-Paul said. “He said it is a blessing to see me play. He said this is the happiest he has been in his lifetime. Even though he couldn’t see me, he knew I was doing good. He listens to the game and my whole family tells him what is going on and he understands it.”

The Giants were 7-7 and facing elimination before winning its last two regular season games and finishing the year winning six straight. Pierre-Paul said the team never gave up and he is looking forward to defending the title and contributing again.

“I knew I could be good,” Pierre-Paul said. “Two years ago, I was going into the draft and now I am a playmaker in the NFL. I am still learning the parts of the game and I am taking it all in.”

Another local, Blanche Ely High School grad, Patrick Peterson, also had a stellar rookie season for the Arizona Cardinals as he set several NFL marks and was also named to the Pro Bowl.

Peterson had the most punt return yards by a rookie in a season with 699, tied for most punt returns in a season for touchdown with four, longest game-winning punt return touchdown in overtime with 99 yards.

Peterson was selected fifth overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2011 NFL Draft and immediately made his mark on his first NFL play when he intercepted a Philip Rivers pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Pompano’s Patrick Peterson. Submitted photo

Peterson, 21, a 6’-0”, 219-lb. cornerback, was selected to the 2012 Pro Bowl and was the only rookie to be selected to the 2011 All-Pro First Team, as a kick return specialist. He finished the season with 64 tackles, a sack, 2 INTs and four punt returns for TDs.

Peterson said his teammates, Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes, have kept him grounded.

“Those guys have definitely given me the keys to success and taught me how to be a professional,” Peter-son said. “They taught me how to grow up fast – faster than I probably needed to.”

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