S Antrel Rolle, the Giants voice of discontent
If the veteran safety isn't happy with the way things are going, he doesn't hesitate to mouth off. It's put him at odds with coach Tom Coughlin at times.
It's also one of the reasons the Giants are back in the Super Bowl and facing the New England Patriots for the NFL title for the second time in four years.
Rolle's frustration after a 23-10 loss to the Washington Redskins on Dec. 18 might have been the spark the Giants (12-7) needed to turn their season around.
Rolle didn't rip anyone after the lackluster game, which left New York with a 7-7 record, but he did say injured players needed to stop babying themselves and, basically, get back to work.
''I can't stress what I felt at that particular point in time,'' Rolle said Monday. ''I know I am not happy about what is being said and I know who I am as a person.''
He spoke up and got his point across. It's not the first time. A year ago, he seemed to question the Giants' leadership on defense, taking a swipe at Justin Tuck.
Coughlin stepped in and asked Rolle to talk to him before taking his case to the media.
Rolle broke etiquette after the Washington game, but his words were appreciated.
''You don't want to be labeled as a guy who is a cancer in the locker room or a guy who is a big mouth,'' Rolle said, noting his mother has always chided him for saying too much. ''I am like: `Mom, I hear you.' But I don't look at the beginning of the tunnel. I look at the end of the tunnel. I know what I am saying. I would never speak anything that is not meaningful and that I feel cannot help my teammates. It's never been about me.''
Rolle insists he is a team player, doing whatever his coaches want without missing a practice.
''When you hear all the talk that he is a big mouth, he's this or that, it's tough. It's extremely tough knowing that you are not that person,'' Rolle said. ''The way things come up, I can't blame people for saying that, but I also understand why I am saying it and what's the reason behind it.''
The Giants haven't said how they will employ Rolle on Sunday against Tom Brady and the Patriots. In the 24-20 win over New England on Nov. 6, New York used a lot of three-safety alignments to handle the Patriots' two tight ends.
Rolle had the job of shadowing Wes Welker, who was held without a touchdown despite having a team-high 136 yards receiving.
''I am very pleased with his attitude, first of all, with his outlook, because he is a very bubbly, smiley guy and he has really fit very well with our other players,'' Coughlin said.
''I can tell you right now, there's not too many feelings that can feel worse than that,'' Rolle said. ''To be so close and have a hard-fought game, I think that eased the pain a little bit as opposed to going there and just getting your butt whooped. But I definitely don't want to feel that again.''
The Giants arrived in Indianapolis on Monday a confident team, one that believes it can knock off New England again.
''We had no doubt,'' guard Chris Snee said, referring back to that game. ''You have to be a confident team when you get on the plane. You reach this game for a reason. It's not by chance. You have to be confident coming out here.''
Asked about his own confidence, Rolle said: ''I mean, we wouldn't have boarded the plane if we didn't expect to win. I think that is the bottom line. We have come here for one thing and one thing only which is to win. We are expecting to win this game come Sunday.''
The Patriots (15-3) feel the same way.
''Listen, this is the last game of the season. I'm pretty sure that the Giants want to win and we want to win, point blank,'' defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. ''You have two good football teams who don't want to walk away with an `L'. Both sides are going to have to play really good football and not give up anything cheap. Trust me, we're not the only ones that feel that we want to win this ballgame. They're sitting over there saying the same thing. This is the last game, and the biggest game of your career. This is what you play for.''