<
>

Osi Umenyiora: JPP 'in good spirits' despite uncertain NFL future

play
How extent of hand injury affects Pierre-Paul (2:13)

Seeing the first photos of Jason Pierre-Paul's hand that show the extent of his injuries, the NFL Live crew debates how the damage will affect the Giants defensive end on the field. (2:13)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Osi Umenyiora has been in touch with Jason Pierre-Paul and says the injured New York Giants defensive end is "just happy he's alive."

Umenyiora, a former All-Pro defensive end for the Giants who officially retired in August, isn't sure when Pierre-Paul will return to football after a fireworks accident led to an amputated finger and a damaged hand.

But Umenyiora said his former pass rushing teammate is in a good place mentally after the July 4 accident.

"He's in good spirits," said Umenyiora, who was inducted into the Giants Ring of Honor on Sunday night during halftime of a 30-27 win over the San Francisco 49ers. "He seems happy. He's just happy he's alive. You know what I mean? [With] all the stuff that he went through."

Umenyiora believes Pierre-Paul, 26, will play football again despite missing his entire index finger and the tip of his thumb. He also had a repair procedure done on his right middle finger.

"Listen, he just needs to get healthy first," Umenyiora said. "As soon as he does then he will get out here. Obviously the team needs him. I think it is obvious for everybody to see that. We know what type of player he is."

Umenyiora said Pierre-Paul can play with a damaged hand and still be effective.

"If anybody can do it, it would be him," said Umenyiora, who now serves as an ambassador for the NFL in England after retiring from football. "He's powerful, athletic football player. I relied more on technique. He uses more athleticism. A guy like that he will be able to overcome that."

Umenyiora has kept up with the Giants. And he knows his old defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can use a better pass rush like when he, Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck were chasing quarterbacks around.

"It is not every year [that- you are going to have star pass-rushers," Umenyiora said. "They are [doing what they can] with what they got and that is important. They are playing well and trying hard and eventually we will get it going."

Giants fans gave Umenyiora a huge roar when he was honored at halftime of the team's win over the 49ers, along with former teammate Chris Snee, John Johnson and Jack Lummus.

"Unbelievable, unbelievable," Umenyiora said of the applause. "That was crazy. You talk about the New York Giants, this is one of the founding franchises, one of the historic franchises in the NFL. For my name to be up there with all of these names, this is a tremendous honor. ... Hard to believe."