Antonio Cromartie has grown as a person.
In the wake of the Jets' 34-20 beatdown of the Washington Redskins on Sunday -- a win that improved Todd Bowles' team to 4-1 -- attention immediately shifted to the next opponent on their schedule. The New England Patriots.
But Cromartie wasn't interested in revisiting the past, or his inflammatory comments about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
During a 2011 interview with the New York Daily News, Cromartie called Brady an expletive, adding that the future Hall of Fame quarterback pointed to the Jets sideline after completing a touchdown pass in the Patriots' 45-3 win in Foxborough on Dec. 6, 2010.
"We see that a lot. He does it a lot," Cromartie said at the time. "That's the kind of guy he is. We really don't give a damn, to tell you the truth."
But Sunday, following an impressive second-half resurgence against the lowly Redskins, Cromartie stressed that his comments about Brady were made years ago. And now, he's happy to pay Brady his due.
"I've grown as a player and as a person," the Jets cornerback told a few reporters after their win over the Redskins. "I've got a lot of respect for what the Patriots have done. For me, it's just going to play football against a divisional opponent."
Asked if he's amazed at the success Brady still has at age 38, Cromartie looked genuinely surprised. "No. Why would I be?" he asked. "It's 38. OK? What does that mean? Brett Favre did it at 40. Peyton Manning is still playing at a high level, so I don't put anything past him. He's in the same system, playing very well."
Next week's AFC matchup with the Pats is sure to be the talk of the town this week (well, that and the Mets' run in the NLCS). But Cromartie insisted that he's not overhyped about facing the defending Super Bowl champions. Nor did he necessarily agree with Sunday's matchup being a "measuring stick" of sorts for the Jets.
"Measuring stick . . .," he said, pausing for a few seconds. "I guess only the media would say a 'measuring stick.' It's just a divisional game . . . It's been a lot of years that they've been the division champs. And for us, it's just about going out and playing football and try to get another win.
"I'm excited about every week . . . The biggest opponent that we face is during that weekend. And this upcoming week is New England."