Antrel Rolle Sits Down for Exclusive Interview With Class Act Sports

Veteran safety Antrel Rolle had a choice to make earlier this season with the New York Giants: Complain about the fact that he was moved away from his natural position, or do what the coaches asked for the betterment of his team. Fortunately for the Giants, he chose the latter, and Giants players and fans couldn’t be happier as he helped deliver the team’s second Super Bowl title in the past four years.

“I only played safety two games this year. I pretty much played a fill-in position. I played whatever position was needed at that point. And I wasn’t too happy about that throughout the course of the year but towards the end of the year, I had to make a decision, is this about me, or is it about the team? Is it about my own self-goals or is it about the team goals,” Rolle said in an exclusive interview with Jared Ginsberg of Class Act Sports.
Rolle was all over the field this season (he had a career-high 96 tackles to go along with two interceptions) playing whatever roll was needed on the defense, forgetting about individual accolades for the sake of his teammates.

“And once I made that decision that the team was so much more bigger than myself, I started to become the best nickel that I could possibly be. It didn’t matter whether or not I got interceptions, it didn’t matter whether or not I was playing safety, playing nickel, playing linebacker. I said to myself whatever position I was going to play, I was going to be the best at that position. So I tell people all the time, I’ve been All-Pro, I’ve been to the Pro Bowl but there is nothing like a team accomplishment, and there is nothing like winning the Super Bowl,” Rolle said.

The Giants started out 6-2 before four-straight losses put them at 6-6. The last loss of that streak was to the defending champion Packers, 38-35 on a field goal as time expired.  After that game, Rolle told anyone that would listen, “We’ll see them again.” The Giants did see them again, to the tune of a 38-20 NFC Divisional Playoff win at Lambeau Field, and it was Rolle who was one of the leaders and most vocal guys in the lockerroom.

“First and foremost, I think it always starts with myself. I go home every day and look at myself in the mirror and see how I can get better as an individual and see how I can help my team. I just felt like we needed a little more boost, we needed a little bit more energy. We needed a little more fire, a little more mental toughness in order to make the run we knew we needed to make to get to the post season,” Rolle told Class Act Sports.
The Giants went on to finish the regular season with three wins in their final four games, before four-in-a-row in the playoffs. Rolle helped keep it loose during that time, even attributing to one of the team slogan’s, “Where Trel At?”

“I’m always the last guy out of the lockerroom, That’s just my thing. I like to be the last guy out, make sure everyone gets out there efficiently and on time, but whenever Deon [Grant] didn’t see me, he’d always ask, ‘Where ‘Trel at? Where ‘Trel at? You know the defense don’t roll without ‘Trel! Where ‘Trel at?’ So the [equipment team] they’re in charge of my equipment- they took it and ran with it and started making fun of our Ebonics- ending a sentence with a preposition. It became like an in-house slogan. Whenever you said it, no matter what you’re going through it always brightened up your day. It was more of an energy booster. When times got tough, going through the postseason I knew it was going to be a stressful stretch, so one Saturday, I decided to get everybody shirts and put it in their lockers, and they came in Saturday and saw the shirts, and it just put a smile on everyone’s face. And that’s what it was all about. And each week, we kept our tradition going. We put out different shirts every week,” he said.

Another key part of the stingy and timely defense that helped the Giants win their fourth Super Bowl was Jason Pierre-Paul. The second-year defensive end had a breakout year with 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks. And while Rolle admitted, he didn’t see this coming, he expects more of the same from Pierre-Paul in the 2012 season.

“I can’t tell you that I imagined him having the season he had this past season but I really didn’t know too much about JPP. But being around him, and seeing his work ethic each and every day, the sky is the limit for this guy. He is only just beginning he is definitely going to bring a whole lot more than what he brought this year,” Rolle told Class Act Sports exclusively.

Before the season began, Giants fans were unhappy with their GM Jerry Reese who let tight end Kevin Boss and wide receiver Steve Smith walk away during free agency and not make a splash signing any free agents. But Reese said the Giants would make the playoffs, and boy did they ever. In fact, Rolle said he was surprised at just how much everyone inside the organization believed in the team.

“Our management has always been awesome. Thanks to them, I am a Giant and thanks to them, I am a Super Bowl Champion. I think when everyone questioned ‘What are they doing? How come they aren’t making the moves? You know the Eagles are doing this, everyone is doing that, and we’re just staying put,’ I think they understood what we had in our lockerroom. Probably more so than we did, and I think they believed that through tough times, we will get it done, and it made us get stronger. It made us build chemistry and I think that was their mindset. They don’t have a crystal ball to say what is going to happen. But if the season had turned a different way, I’m pretty sure everyone would have probably ripped them for that, but thanks to us and thanks to them, we believed in each other and they believed in us more than anyone, and were able to go out there and be Super Bowl Champions,” he said.

He had made the Super Bowl with the Cardinals three years ago, and was seconds away from being a Champion, before Santonio Holmes caught the winning touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 35 seconds remaining in the game. So Rolle did all he could to ensure not having that feeling repeat itself again in Super Bowl XLVI.

“It’s extremely special. Most of all, because I think it is well-deserved. It was a collective team effort from top to bottom, and most of all, we gave ourselves a chance when no one else did. And we believed in each other and that’s all it took. Once we got on the same page at the same time and things started clicking, we weren’t going to be denied and we knew it and we felt it, we went out there and we believed it, we dreamed it and it became true,” Rolle said.

It won’t be easy repeating, as the Patriots were the last team to do it in the 2004-2005 seasons, but Rolle knows his team is very capable of winning it again- if they play as the did when it mattered this season.

“It’s going to take more, it’s going to take the same thing just magnified by ten because being the Super Bowl Champs, that bulls-eye is going to be on your back. But I’m never going to sell ourselves short. I think the sky is the limit for us. I think we have an identity. I think we know who we are and what we can be at this point and we are only going to get better,” he said.

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