In Jason Pierre-Paul Fireworks Episode, Lessons for Players and for Media

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterJuly 9, 2015

LM Otero/AP Images

First, as others are reporting, I am told Jason Pierre-Paul, after ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted out an image of a medical record that listed a right index finger amputation, is strongly considering suing the hospital that, presumably, employs someone who leaked the information.

What I'm told by this source close to Pierre-Paul is the Giants defensive end didn't authorize any release of medical information. If that is accurate, then someone's going to get their ass fired. And sued.

(We also have to allow for the possibility that someone in JPP's camp released the information to Schefter, and my source, and others, are unaware of this.)

There are many lessons from this incredibly silly, sad, important, dangerous and at times totally insane episode in which Pierre-Paul seriously damaged his hand while lighting fireworks.

Lesson for the media

Twitterverse went absolutely ballistic after Schefter published a copy of JPP's medical info. Then Twitter went after me for not having a problem with Schefter doing it.

This is what I meant, and this is where the lesson needs to be learned.

No, Schefter should not have tweeted a pic of the medical chart. That was unnecessary, and that's not what I thought was OK. But almost every news organization in the country would have printed the information. Few, if any, would have printed the medical chart. That was wrong, but Schefter reporting an amputated finger was not. Mainly because that information would have gotten out anyway.

Pierre-Paul speaks to the media during 2013 training camp.
Pierre-Paul speaks to the media during 2013 training camp.The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

There is leaked medical information in the NFL every day. Many times a day. How do fans and media know that a player had surgery or tore a ligament or broke a hand before the team or player announces it? Medical leaks are a common part of NFL life. They're just not done with pictures.

(In fact, later Wednesday afternoon, NJ.com's Jordan Raanan reported Pierre-Paul's surgery actually had not been completed at the time of Schefter's original tweet.)

Before you climb down from your high horse armed with pitchforks, I cannot stress this enough. If a hospital source told a journalist—any journalist—that JPP had a finger amputated, almost every journalist would have reported it. Any journo saying now they would not isn't telling the truth.

This is the, at times, ugly media landscape we inhabit now. Social media has changed everything. Sometimes for the better but often not.

And maybe that is the lesson. Maybe all journalists should stop and think about where our profession is going. A journalist I really respect joked that someone was probably periscoping JPP's finger surgery. I laughed and then thought, someone probably will try that in the future. Unfortunately, that's where journalism is headed, and it's not good.

Lesson for Pierre-Paul

There were lots of jokes about Pierre-Paul's injury and harsh columns written about his IQ. But there's no question that now I feel great compassion for him. He did something stupid and paid for it by losing a finger. No one deserves that.

But assuming he hurt the finger using fireworks, much of this is on JPP. He's a 26-year-old man who has to know fireworks are incredibly dangerous. That was a choice. He made it.

I can tell you, with certainty, the Giants feel bad for Pierre-Paul, but they are also enraged, a team source told me. "He just needed to be smart," the source said, "and he wasn't."

This injury doesn't just impact JPP. It impacts the Giants as well.

Lesson for all players

There are consequences to actions.

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Sometimes, those consequences are harsh, and unfair, but they are there. This is what the NFL constantly preaches, and most players listen, because most NFL players are smart and responsible men.

But if you hit a woman, there are consequences. Beat your kid...consequences. Light fireworks that were probably built with crappy material and are borderline safe...possible consequences.

What happens next for Pierre-Paul? The source close to him thinks JPP will be back sooner than people think and feels the injury won't be as severe as many believe.

There is possibly some truth to this. JPP does tape his index and middle finger together. So it's possible the impact isn't significant on his play.

Yet defensive linemen use their hands perhaps more than any other position on the field. Losing that one finger is a massive loss. Yes, he tapes the fingers together, but there are fingers to tape. Now, one is gone. Who knows what kind of impact that will have.

It's possible there is little impact, or there could be a huge impact. We just don't know.

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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