When the Jets swung the trade for Antonio Cromartie, they knew the talented but sometimes troubled cornerback had some off-the-field issues that he needed to address.
Cromartie, who has seven children with six different women scattered throughout five states, was late on some child support payments and was facing at least five paternity suits. So the Jets elected to help him out, advancing him $500,000 of the $1.7 million he's scheduled to make in base salary in 2010.
Cromartie said he didn't approach the Jets about some upfront money.
“Nah, no request at all," Cromartie said this morning when we spoke with him in the locker room, as the Jets continue their voluntary offseason conditioning workouts. "They wanted me to get all my off-the-field issues settled and it’s done. That was the biggest thing for me, and for me to focus the way I needed to focus and play the way I wanted to play. It was a blessing for me for everything that went on."
With his child support issues cleared up, does that lift a burden off the 25-year-old's shoulders?
“It’s not even a burden or a distraction. My off the field issues weren’t really a distraction to me," he said. "I just wanted to get everything taken care of like I was supposed to.”
"My off-the-field issues is my personal life," he added. "A lot of people deal with stuff in their personal life. Mine just happens to be be public. I’m not afraid to talk about my personal life or anything like that. But at the end of the day, my personal life is still going to be my personal life. Off-the-field issues are off-the-field issues. So that’s something I have to deal with every single day."
Cromartie also said the portrayal that he wanted out of San Diego wasn't totally accurate. CB Quentin Jammer, who apparently tried to be a mentor or sorts to Cromartie, told the San Diego Union-Tribune after Cromartie was shipped here for a 2011 conditional third-round pick that he felt his former teammate didn't was angling to get moved to another team.
“A lot of the antics were maybe techniques to get him traded,” Jammer told the paper. “The person he is, that was not him. I think he got exactly what he wanted.”
But Cromartie said that's not the case.
“I mean, was I unhappy? Yes," he said. "There’s just some things going on in house that I really didn’t like. So it was something that was [better] for both myself and for the organization, giving me a fresh start. I’m just looking forward to this upcoming season and playing the way I’m supposed to play."
And that doesn't include showing people that he's still got it and can return to the Pro Bowl form he displayed in 2007 when he had 10 interceptions.
“I don’t think I need to prove myself to anybody," Cromartie said. "I feel like I know what I’m capable of. My teammates, they’ve encouraged me since I’ve been here to just come out and play football. That's the biggest thing. That is the biggest thing that I feel like I need to do to help out this organization. I have a clear head and mind [to] come out here and play some great football like I’m supposed to.”