While Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch continues to dodge the media during Super Bowl week, New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle was more than happy to talk to me about the NFL Pro Bowl, Super Bowl and even Richard Sherman's infamous rant.
Rolle certainly lived up to the hype as one of the most media-friendly athletes in the NFL today.
Currently, he is supporting The Northwest Company's initiative to keep the fans in attendance at Super Bowl XLVIII warm during the expected frigid temperatures.
The official handwarmer of the Super Bowl, The Northwest Company produced a total of 85,000 warmers for the game. They will be placed inside every fan's seat cushion prior to kickoff. The company is also the exclusive blanket of the NFL and Super Bowl. They produce countless products with official logos of NFL, MLB and NBA franchises.
Victoria's Secret model Erin Heatherton has become the face associated with the new warmers, as she has been plastered on billboards wearing the warmers.
Rolle told me that he was proud to be supporting such an effort, and he believes the fans will be happy to use the products that keep their favorite athletes warm on the field.
The star safety knows that the cold conditions expected for opening kickoff have been a concern ever since it was announced that the game would be played at MetLife Stadium. Regardless, Rolle thinks bringing the game to East Rutherford, N.J., is a great idea.
"Honestly, I think it's cool because it's something that's never been done," he said.
However, he alluded to the fact that he probably wouldn't enjoy playing in such cold conditions when other teams have gotten the opportunity to play in warmer climates in recent years.
"If I was playing in the game, then I might have a different look at it," he said jokingly.
Rolle also had some praise for the 2014 Pro Bowl, as he was pleased with the format and was very enthusiastic about the future of the game:
The format was awesome, man. It's definitely one that we should keep. Having the uncertainty about who you're going to be playing with and developing that chemistry with guys you may have never met before in your career or your lifetime made it exciting.
During the action, much was made over the play that saw linebacker T.J. Ward hit Cleveland Browns teammate Josh Gordon low enough to flip him over. Many analysts (and likely members of the Browns brass) were upset over the hit, saying that injuring a teammate would be a devastating consequence of the fantasy draft format.
Rolle thought it was fine, though. He hopes to one day get the opportunity to compete against one of his teammates in that way. When asked if it would be hard to tackle one of his own teammates, he had this response:
It wouldn't be that hard, actually. You know, I would love to hit one of those guys. I never really get to hit them throughout the week or in training camp. I want to let them know why they should be happy to be on my side and not the opposing side.
Rolle was a member of Team Jerry Rice and recorded four tackles (three solo) in the contest. Team Rice won 22-21 on a two-point conversion by fullback Mike Tolbert.
After discussing the Pro Bowl, the conversation shifted to cornerback Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks. As a fellow defensive back, I figured Rolle would offer some valuable insight on Sherman's epic tirade following the NFC Championship Game with Erin Andrews of Fox Sports. And he did:
His comments were, you know, just a guy being caught up in the moment. He's a competitor. Obviously, he said some foolish things a little bit. I just think that he was being a competitor. I'm a competitor; I know exactly what he was trying to say.
Sherman has been dominant since entering the NFL in 2011, and he currently stands amongst the game's best at the position.
Rolle believes that Sherman is No. 1: "I don't think there's another corner out there that's playing better right now than Richard Sherman."
The stage is set for Sherman to prove his talents when his team squares off with the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Both teams also feature compelling quarterbacks, which Rolle went on to discuss.
Rolle faced both Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson at MetLife Stadium this season as a member of the Giants, and he knows better than most defenders what each can bring to the table compared to the other. Rolle doesn't think that this game will be decided by quarterback play.
"I don't feel like it's going to be a quarterback that leads their team to victory. I think it's going to be which team goes out there and plays the best defense...for me, defense wins games," he said.
Though he acknowledged his bias as a defensive player, there's a good chance he's right in this case. The Seahawks defense owns the best secondary in the NFL, and the Broncos receivers will have a hard time finding space against the overpowering unit.
The Broncos defense is no slouch, either. They were stout against the run in 2013, and the run game is a fundamental aspect of the Seattle offense.
Rolle didn't offer his own pick for the game. The teams appear to be evenly matched, making it difficult—even for a Pro Bowl safety—to predict a winner.
To close, he did offer this: "May the best man win."
Whether that's Manning or Wilson, Lynch or the Broncos defense, or the Seahawks secondary or the Broncos receivers will be decided on Feb. 2.
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