A good safety needs to know how to backpedal, and Kenny Phillips showed he can do just that.
As comments made by him and fellow Giants safety Antrel Rolle made their way to New York from a Monday interview on a Miami radio station, Phillips tried to distance himself as much as he could from remarks that could be considered critical of Tom Coughlin and his coaching style. In the radio interview, Phillips said he "would love to play for a guy like Rex [Ryan]" and noted that the Jets "are playing for him and I'd love to be a part of that."
"I do not want to play for the Jets, I do not want to play for Rex Ryan," Phillips said on ESPN's "SportsCenter" Tuesday. "I was drafted by the Giants, they stuck with me through my injury and I am very happy with this organization. There were some comments made [Monday] during the interview that were obviously taken the wrong way."
While Phillips tried to clean up his mess, Rolle had little wiggle room in his unambiguous comments.
The Pro Bowl player said he did not have fun in his first year playing under Coughlin, urged the notoriously strict coach to "loosen up," and even cast some of the blame for the meltdown against the Eagles in December on Coughlin and his staff. Rolle also suggested that the Giants are a better football team than the Jets, but the Jets are still alive in the playoffs because of their chemistry that begins with Ryan.
The remarks prompted a response from former Giant and current special assistant coach Jessie Armstead, one of the most respected people in the organization. In a Twitter update aimed at Rolle and Phillips, Armstead noted that "the grass is not always greener" and that the "Jets [are] making a good run . . . but if [you] open your eyes we have three Super Bowls."
Phillips said his comments were only meant to praise the Jets and their playoff run, not to compare Coughlin to Ryan.
"The only thing that I was trying to get across, and not only me, Antrel Rolle, was we were trying to give the Jets some praise," Phillips said on the "SportsCenter" appearance. "The intention was not to take shots at Tom Coughlin. The [comments] were maybe taken the wrong way with our answers. But we were not trying to take shots."