By Josh Katzowitz
INDIANAPOLIS – A month ago, Giants safety Antrel Rolle ripped some of his teammates for not playing through injuries. Two weeks ago, Rolle declared that his team “couldn’t be beat” before New York faced San Francisco. Somewhere in between, his mother gave him some advice.
Now, just to be clear, Rolle and his mom, Armelia Rolle, talk multiple times a day. Sometimes, as much as three or four times in a 24-hour span, and nobody -- not his coaches, his teammates or his conscience -- is going to be as truthful with him as she. They talk about life, about religion and about football.
So, when she gave him the advice to tone down his rhetoric and think about what he was going to say before the words left his mouth, he listened carefully.
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“As a mother, your first concern is what you read,” Rolle said. “She reads a lot, and she’s all about football. It definitely concerned her when she read things like, ‘Antrel needs to shut up’ or ‘He’s a distraction to the team.’ She knows I’m not that kind of guy, so for her to hear that as a mother, naturally it’s going to draw some concerns. It did for me as well. But I can’t pay attention to that.”
But then, like a preacher reading the summit of his sermon, Rolle’s voice began to rise during his time at Tuesday’s Media Day.
“I can hear it and I can feel it and it does bother me. But my only concern is for the betterment of this team. You ask guys in our locker room, and they say, ‘Antrel doesn’t say much.’ Nothing I ever say is premeditated, but what I say is what I feel deep. Whether it should be displayed to the media or not, I can’t say that. But I don’t take any of it back. I don’t have any regrets.”
Nor should he. The Giants have won five of their last six, and their defense has improved throughout the season. Toward the end of the year, when the Giants fell to 7-7 after yet another loss to the Redskins, Rolle said the injured players needed to stop babying themselves and get back into the game. Considering he'd also questioned Justin Tuck last season, Rolle's mouth was setting a disturbing trend.
But Rolle also isn’t seen by his teammates as a loudmouth locker room force. He isn’t known as a cancer. He’s just a guy who’s ultra-confident. He’s a guy who, in his mind, speaks the truth when it needs to be spoken.
“That’s the sad part people don’t know,” safety Deon Grant said. “They judge that book by that cover. He’s the total opposite. He’s not the kind of guy off the field who’s a loudmouth and getting in trouble. He’s a very respectable guy, a very kind-hearted guy. He makes all the people who come into contact with, he takes care of them in his presence.”
And for better or for worse, Rolle isn’t going to change.
“I don’t think I can change,” he said. “I don’t know if I even want to change. I can only be smarter about how I may come off. But never, ever I have spoken out of anger. I just say what I feel.”
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