ALBANY — He knew there was something very wrong with both his shoulders last winter, but Antrel Rolle refused to go through the customary routine of getting an X-ray or MRI to determine why he was in such excruciating pain.
No time for that. Not with a regular season to be saved and a Super Bowl title to claim.
“I wasn’t going to go for any tests, I didn’t want to know what it was,’’ the Giants safety told The Post yesterday after lunch at the University at Albany. “I knew it was something. I know my body. I’m a fast healer, not too many things really bother me. Little nicks and bruises, I kind of get over it in a day or two.’’
Not this time. Rolle didn’t seek answers because he didn’t want anyone to tell him he had to take a seat.
“I’d rather just eat the pain and we’ll handle it in the off-season,’’ he said.
Oh, he ate the pain all right. He revealed to The Post he played down the stretch last season with a Grade II tear of the right rotator cuff. His left rotator cuff wasn’t as severe — it was partially torn. His range of motion was nearly non-existent. If he could brace for impending impact, the discomfort was tolerable. The action on a football field cannot always be choreographed or calculated, and when the unexpected pull or tug occurred he saw stars.
“There were definitely times where my shoulder felt like it was almost coming out, or if I jumped up to bat a ball down it felt like the worst things I’ve ever felt,’’ Rolle said. “Yeah, it definitely hurt. I’m not Superman, you know.’’
His left shoulder was damaged in the Dec. 11 game at Cowboys Stadium. Rolle dealt with it as best he could but in the first playoff game, Jan. 8 against the Falcons, his right rotator cuff was torn.
After that, on game days, Rolle said he got his shoulders wrapped tightly by assistant trainer Leigh Weiss, “keeping them restricted, but not too restricted.’’ He took a shot of Toradol to blunt the inevitable pain and took the field.
In the critical final regular season game against the Cowboys — essentially a play-in game for the playoffs — Rolle said he hit running back Felix Jones on a slant pattern and then made a guttural sound to describe what happened next. “I just lay on the ground for a second,’’ he said. “I just had to jump up because I didn’t want to get myself into that mind-frame that, ‘Damn, you’re shoulder’s hurting.’ I had to keep going.’’
At Candlestick Park in the NFC Championship, Rolle said on one play his shoulder bent all the way backward.
“That was another moment,’’ he said, not appearing as if he enjoyed the recollection. “It was very painful. Very, very painful.’’
As last season wore on, Rolle evolved into an emotional leader for the oft-battered defense and his sounding the “All In’’ rallying cry became one of the seminal moments in the title run. Justin Tuck admitted Rolle’s plea for anyone and everyone to participate in practice — no matter how banged up — struck a chord and provoked him to ignore his own ailments.
Rolle now had to practice what he preached.
“There was no coming out, that wasn’t an option,’’ he said. “I can’t say it and not live by it, that wouldn’t be me.’’
Yesterday, Rolle looked frisky intercepting an overthrown Eli Manning pass and he says his shoulders are no longer a concern. He said the Giants doctors “suggested’’ he have surgery on both shoulders.
“I asked them, just give me a month,’’ Rolle said.
He worked extensively on his shoulders, sometimes twice a day back home in Miami, and reports his shoulders are “probably stronger than they were before.’’ He hasn’t missed a beat in training camp.
“Thank God I was able to be successful with that miracle,’’ said Rolle, adding he doesn’t regret what he put himself through. “God forbid, if it has to be an issue, I’m doing the same thing again.’’