Rolle defends his criticism of Giants leadership

Posted Sept. 22, 2010, at 9:14 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 23, 2010, at 8:52 a.m.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Much to Tom Coughlin’s dismay, the New York Giants are getting away from their recent habit of keeping their complaints about the team internal.

A couple of weeks ago, running back Brandon Jacobs broke the internal code of silence by griping about losing his starting job.

Now it’s Antrel Rolle. The safety, in a radio interview on Tuesday, complained about the team’s player leadership, the travel schedule and the way the players performed and reacted in a 38-14 loss to the Colts on Sunday.

Rolle didn’t back down from his comments on Wednesday, although he acknowledged that he should have voiced his concern with Coughlin before airing them.

“I don’t think I was talking out of turn, at all,” Rolle said. “I think I said what needed to be said. You know, no matter who heard it, it needed to be said. Like I said, I should have definitely come to Tom Coughlin before anyone else, which was a bad on my part, but what I said needed to be said.”

Rolle insisted that he was speaking out of concern for the well being of the team and not out of frustration about what happened in one game.

“I don’t think there was enough fight,” Rolle said. “I don’t think there was enough being said. I don’t think there was enough attitude, enough anger toward getting your butt whupped the way we were getting whupped. That was my problem and the issue I had. If I don’t have that issue, then it’s a problem in my eyes.”

While Coughlin said that he and Rolle had a good conversation on Tuesday, he refused to say what was said.

“I think once the conversations have been accomplished between me and the players, it is well understood by everyone that whatever those issues are, they should be discussed internally,” Coughlin said.

Rolle had no doubts that more than a few players agreed with what he said.

“I am just looking for a win,” said Rolle, the former Arizona Cardinal who was signed as a free agent this spring. “I take this game very seriously. I take my work very seriously and I take my craft very seriously. In order for us to be as good as we can be, we are going to have to come together.”

Cornerback Terrell Thomas said Rolle hit the mark.

“We were just dead out there,” Thomas said. “You could see it when we first came out. We were hoping we’d get picked up but he hit it right on the horn. He’s a leader, been a leader and he is right what he is saying. We were dead out there and we have to find a way to fix it.”

Watching the videotapes of the game, Thomas said there was no excitement even when the Giants made a play.

“We just didn’t show up,” Thomas said.

While the Giants did a lot of complaining about Coughlin and his rules after he became the coach in 2004, the griping decreased dramatically as the team got better, made the playoffs and eventually won a Super Bowl in February 2009.

The way last season ended — with losses in eight of the final 11 games — it’s not surprising players are yapping.

An angry Jacobs complained about losing his starting job after the final preseason game. He then tossed his helmet into the stands after being pulled Sunday. The league fined Jacobs $10,000 on Tuesday. Coughlin also met with him and discussed being more professional and controlling his emotions.

Jacobs apologized for his actions on Wednesday to the media, the team, the Colts and the fan in Indianapolis who caught his helmet.

“I didn’t mean for that to happen,” Jacobs said. “I was angry. I should have never thrown the helmet to begin with, no matter where it went to.”

In recent years, Coughlin has noted the importance of his leadership council, a group of 10 or 11 players who acted as intermediaries between him and the players.

Coughlin dropped the council this year. He noted it was not as effective in 2009 and the players had changed. Eli Manning, Justin Tuck and Chase Blackburn were named the captains and Coughlin has relied on them to deal with the players.

“We have great leaders on this team,” Manning said. “You don’t have to be voted to a council to be a leader. All 53 guys are leaders in some way, either just doing their job or being accountable to this team.”

Manning said players also have to realize they work in the New York metropolitan area and things they say are going to become headlines.

“Antrel is new to New York and he has to get accustomed to that and Brandon is Brandon,” Manning said. “Brandon knows he made a mistake and we’ve talked a little bit. Now it’s about playing football. We’ve been through this in the past and it doesn’t matter what you say to the media making a complaint. It won’t fix anything.” NOTES: Starting C Shaun O’Hara had his sore ankle placed in a boot and did not practice. …S Michael Johnson (back), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), WR Mario Manningham (illness) and LB Phillip Dillard (hamstring) did not practice. TE Kevin Boss returned to practice after missing the Colts game with a concussion.

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