Dave Hyde: One teacher, one comment and new Dolphin Jason Pierre-Paul's life changed into a football success story

Dave Hyde, South Florida Sun-Sentinel on

Published in Football

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — To appreciate the newest Miami Dolphins’ final chapter, consider his first one. Two decades ago, he entered geometry class on the first day as a Deerfield Beach High School junior. The teacher was waiting for him.

“Jason Pierre-Paul, you know geometry is a core class,’’ said that teacher, Manny Martin, who was also an assistant football coach. “You know you need to pass to graduate.”

Pierre-Paul nodded.

“You’d better be on the football field at 3:30 today,” Martin said.

Amazing, isn’t it? One push from one teacher on one afternoon started Pierre-Paul on a journey involving two Super Bowl rings, three Pro Bowls, multi-million dollar contracts and 14-year NFL career he hopes to cap with more big run with his hometown team starting at Washington on Sunday.

It shows how teachers change lives, doesn’t it?


“Who knows where I’d be if not for that?” Pierre-Paul, 34, said at his new Dolphins locker Thursday.

Martin chuckled over the phone Thursday in relating how he, “needed a little threat like passing him in class,” to get him to play football. Martin noticed his big frame walking in a hallway the previous year and stopped him.

“When I introduced myself and we shook hands, his hand covered mine and went to my wrist,’’ Martin said. I said, ‘Dude, you need to play football.’ ”

Pierre-Paul said was a basketball player. He only played one year of football at 7 or 8. And that’s why Martin remembers being surprised when after the next year’s geometry class the player showed up to football practice.


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