When Antrel Rolle said he wishes that Tom Coughlin would loosen up, it had a familiar ring to it. It sounded like something that Michael Strahan would have said a few years back, pre-Super Bowl ring. Now Strahan is at the Super Bowl again – as a commentator for FOX – and he said that Rolle has no idea how bad things were before the new and improved Coughlin.
“He doesn’t know what tight is,” Strahan said. “If he thinks that that is tight, he doesn’t know what tight is. He just comes from a totally different system. I don’t know if the coach is looser or the rules are looser or what, but the Coughlin I know is nowhere near what he used to be.”
Strahan said he has already spoken with Rolle about the way comments from team leaders can reverberate in New York the way they do not in Arizona. That conversation took place earlier in the season, after Rolle ripped the team following the loss to the Colts.
“Rolle is a leader on that team and I encouraged him to be a leader when I saw him in New York this season,” Strahan said. “I told him when he was criticized about his comments … I said ‘You’re right and you’re a leader and don’t let them take that away from you, being a leader. But you have to realize in New York a lot of responsibility comes with that and when you say things they’re going to go everywhere with it. You have to be prepared for it.’ But as a leader you need to learn that with those comments, radio is not the right place. I learned that the hard way because I did the same thing. I can’t fault him.”
The guy who also delivered that message to Rolle this weekend at the Pro Bowl was Justin Tuck. Strahan said Tuck is the right guy to be doing that.
“Justin has been there longer than anybody, Justin is one of the best players on the team,” Strahan said. “Somebody needs to take ownership of the team, and if anybody is in line to do that I would see it as Justin. To pretty much say, ‘If you say that about the coach you’re basically saying that about me.’ You have to take it personally. Because if you’re the leader of that team you are a coach on the field … If anyone has any gripe, they have to come through you first before it goes anywhere else and you have to handle it. That’s the kind of control you have to take as the leader of that team. I think Justin is the guy for that.”
As for Rolle, Strahan said the guys who were there for the Super Bowl – like Tuck and others – need to set him straight. Strahan can’t do it.
“I think you have to have other guys who have been there through the good and bad Coughlin to say ‘Hey, trust me, buy into the system and do what we need to do because this is nowhere near what it used to be.’ This guy is a great coach and he wants to win. That’s one thing I learned about Coach Coughlin, it was all about winning. It wasn’t nothing personal. And then he learned the personal side of it, learned how to let you think he cared about you, and he let you know that. Before that’s what he never did. I’d be happy to play for him any day.”