- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle doesn't waver in his belief that he does not like being booed by Giants fans, but he did apologize Thursday night for making a comparison between the Giants and soldiers getting booed.
After first criticizing the fans Tuesday for booing the Giants in the first half and at halftime of their 24-20 win over Jacksonville on Sunday, the outspoken safety just two days later compared his team's cold reception to that of military men and women receiving the same treatment.
"They want to make it that guys paid this much money for a ticket, yeah, I understand that," Rolle said Thursday. "We're risking ourselves out there on the field each and every day also. When soldiers come back from Iraq, you don't boo them. I look at it the same way."
A few hours later, Rolle admitted in a statement that his comments were off-base.
"I used a very poor, inappropriate example earlier today to demonstrate how seriously I take my job. Obviously there is no comparison between the men and women of our military putting their life on the line defending our country and what I do," Rolle said in the statement. "They risk their lives and that gives me the opportunity to play a game for a living.
"After I made my earlier comments, somebody even said to me: How would your father, who is the chief of police in Homestead [Fla.] and puts himself at risk every day, feel about the comparison you made? Again, it was a very poor, very inappropriate choice of words."
Rolle's initial chastising of Giants fans for booing came in his weekly radio segment on WFAN Tuesday. Rolle said it ticked him off and that fans should never boo their team, and he does not agree with the notion that the fans were booing out of love.
"We are out there playing and pouring our heart out for our team as well as for our fans," Rolle said Tuesday. "You don't boo your team, I don't care what the situation is. We are 7-4. We are not 2-10. There are going to be ups and downs during the course of a season."
Rolle then took his comments to the next level Thursday by making the comparison between the Giants and military personnel. While the military line added fuel to the fire, Rolle did not back down from his comments, urging the fans to be more supportive.
He said he understands the fans show up at the Stadium to back the team, but reiterated his belief that the players are trying their best to give the fans something to cheer about. He said that he is not the only Giant who feels that way, and while it does not affect the way he plays during a game, he said it could affect other players.
"It's not Antrel against the fans, it's not Antrel speaking out again, I'm not trying to cause no problems," Rolle said. "I love my fans, my fans know that I love them, we put our heart on the field each and every Sunday for them, but just want them to be more on our side."
Teammate Justin Tuck had no problems with the fans booing. He said he does not worry about the fans and the cheering or booing, saying that people have particulars in their lives with which they are displeased, especially those which involve money.
"The fans are here to be entertained. For them, it's like a show," Tuck said. "For us, it's a job, it's something we love to do. I wouldn't expect the average fan to understand what's going on in the football game. They booing, then they're displeased with it, that's their right. My job is to go out there and make sure I do my job correctly, and obviously the way we played in the first half it wasn't happening."
Added Osi Umenyiora: "That's just the way the fans are, but they have every right to be like that. They are paying $120 a ticket to come watch us play, you can't go out there and stink it up like that, especially in New York. As long as they are paying to come watch us play, they can boo, they can do whatever they want to, they're well within their rights to do that."
Rolle, who earlier sparked controversy with his comments regarding the Giants' travel schedule and structure following a 38-14 loss to Indianapolis on Sept. 19, said his comments Tuesday were the result of his not being politically correct.
"That's just not the way I am, you ask me a question, I'm going to give you the answer and I'm going to give you the honest answer," Rolle said. "If my coaches ask me, my girlfriend asks me, I'm going to give you an honest answer, I don't sugarcoat anything."
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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