Let's call this Antrel Rolle Version 2.0. The New York Giants Pro Bowl safety, whose January comments about coach Tom Coughlin landed him in a hailstorm of controversy, sounded like a player determined to avoid such missteps in 2011 during an appearance Monday on ESPN Radio New York with Ian O'Connor.
"The only thing I'm gonna focus on is being a better number 26," Rolle told O'Connor. "That's all I can do. If I work on being a better safety that's going to trickle down, that's going to help other players. It's going to help my team. I'm not doing it for my own selfish reasons, I'm doing it for the betterment of my team.
"That's going to be my only focus this year. There isn't going to be any problems, there aren't going to be any things said about Coach Coughlin."
O'Connor pressed Rolle on the Coughlin topic, as he should have, asking him directly "Do you like him as a head coach?"
"I like him ... Coach Coughlin knows how I feel about him. … I never said he was a bad guy, I never said anything remotely close to that," Rolle said. "I made one comment and everyone wants to take it like ‘oh my God, Antrel doesn’t like Coach Coughlin, he hates being with the Giants, which is not true at all. I love being with the Giants and Coach Coughlin and myself, we talk on a daily basis.
"I tell everyone all the time I like Coach Coughlin as a coach, and I’m sure he likes me as a player. You’re both men, men are not always going to agree. It was my fault to voice that, I should have just kept quiet about it which I will do from now on."
Rolle said coming to New York from Arizona was "a bit of a shocker," and that he needs to handle the change better.
"It was a bit of a shocker. I was unaware of how things are run with the Giants organization. I love the organization, it's definitely been great to me, but it was a bit of a shocker," Rolle said.
"That's part of being a man and that's part of being a professional. I have to adapt and take things as they come, not Coach Coughlin."
Rolle, of course, was a member of the Arizona Cardinals before coming to the Giants as a richly-rewarded free agent. He was part of a Cardinal team that went to the Super Bowl in 2008 and went 10-6 in 2009 before losing to New Orleans in the divisional round. He said, though, that this Giants team is the most talented he has ever been on despite having missed the playoffs last season.
"We need to come together and finish games. As far as talent-wise I've never seen anything like it. I've never been a part of such a dynamic group and such a special group with as much talent at each and every position," Rolle said. "We just need to learn how to close out games."