Two former Giants who were never teammates will square off Sunday in Super Bowl LV and this week they have warmed up for their clash by engaging in some verbal jousting.
One of the game's key matchups will be Tampa Bay Pro Bowl outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants, 2010-17) against Kansas City tackle Mike Remmers (Giants, 2019).
JPP's 9.5 sacks led a Tampa Bay defense that registered 48 sacks, tied for the NFL's fourth-highest total in 2020. He and his pass-rushing mates will try to incessantly harass Patrick Mahomes, a chief – pardon the pun – element in their quest to deny Kansas City a second straight title. Pierre-Paul will line up frequently opposite Remmers, whose last 55 starts have been at right or left guard or right tackle, where he played 10 games this season, including both Kansas City playoff games. But a series of injuries along the O-line – the latest the torn Achilles tendon Eric Fisher suffered in the AFC Championship Game, have forced Remmers to move to the left side. He last started a game there on Jan. 1, 2017, ironically against Tampa Bay for Carolina.
Pierre-Paul didn't seem too concerned about facing Remmers when the subject was raised on a Zoom interview with numerous reporters.
"I didn't even know who that was," he said. "Man, I'm not going to lie to you. Is this a tackle you're talking about? Like I said, I don't care too much about it. They got to figure that out. I'm going to play some great football this weekend."
Not if Remmers can prevent him from doing so.
"Honestly, I don't really care what his opinion is on anything," he said of JPP. "Every week I've played in this league, I've never gone into a game thinking, 'Hey, I wonder what this guy thinks of me.' I don't care at all, it makes no difference to me. I'm just going out there to do my job."
In the days when locker rooms actually had bulletin boards, the Chiefs would have prominently displayed Pierre-Paul's comments. But Remmers insists they barely registered with him.
"I need no extra motivation," he said. "This is the Super Bowl, I don't care at all. This doesn't matter if this is just a Week 1 game or the Super Bowl. It doesn't matter. I don't need any extra motivation to do anything. I'm going out there to do my job to the best of my abilities. If you need more extra motivation for the Super Bowl, then I don't know what to do."
View photos of former Giants and current Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Remmers has been a constant presence on a line that has been juggling pieces since before the season, when starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (a medical school graduate) and third-round draft choice Lucas Niang took the COVID-19 opt-out. In Week 5, Kelechi Osemele tore tendons in both knees. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz hasn't played since Week 6 because of a bad back. Then Fisher, the first overall choice in the 2013 NFL Draft, tore his Achilles, forcing Remmers to move to left tackle, Andrew Wylie from right guard to right tackle, and Stefen Wisniewski to step in at right guard.
Pierre-Paul was understandably unsympathetic to the Chiefs' plight.
"I don't care," he said. "It don't matter. This is the freaking Super Bowl. I don't care if they have three offensive linemen, they send two to block me, three to block me. I'm going to do what I need to do. Us boys going to do what we need to do. That's a you problem. They gotta figure that out. I'm coming to play a football game. Not just any football game, but Super Bowl LV. I ain't got time to play games. The only game I'm playing is football. … I don't care about their offensive line. I don't care."
JPP and Remmers have traveled divergent paths to this game. The former was a highly-touted defensive end prospect whom the Giants selected 15th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. As a pro sophomore, he recorded the fourth-highest single-season sack total in franchise history, 16.5, and was selected to his first Pro Bowl and was a first-team All-Pro (he was chosen for Pro Bowl No. 3 this season). Pierre-Paul has 89.0 regular-season sacks.
Remmers entered the NFL has an undrafted free agent in 2012 and has been with eight teams (Minnesota twice), playing regular-season games for five. In 2019, he started 14 games at right tackle for the Giants. Remmers signed with the Chiefs as a free agent on March 21. A steady player who has 88 starts in 92 regular-season games, he has never been to a Pro Bowl.
The initial Super Bowl experiences of the two players were also dissimilar. Pierre-Paul had two tackles and deflected two Tom Brady passes in the Giants' victory against New England in Super Bowl XLVI. In 2015, Remmers was the right tackle on a Carolina Panthers team that went 15-1 and was favored to beat Denver in Super Bowl 50. But Denver won, 24-10, in part because game MVP Von Miller toyed with Remmers and had 2.5 sacks of Cam Newton.
"That game is in my past," Remmers said. "I'm not the same player I was five years ago."
But once again the focus of his Super Bowl experience will be blocking a premier pass rusher.
"The Super Bowl is the longest shortest game of your life," Remmers said. "It's very strange. It's a long game, but it's over before you know it. It goes by pretty quick, to be honest."
He won't feel that way if JPP impersonates Von Miller and has an MVP-caliber performance.