There is a fine line between talking trash and compromising your integrity and New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie literally ran across it, naked, on fire, while screaming expletives.
OK, so only the last part actually happened, but you get the point.
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs runs his mouth, but his comments almost always pertain directly to the game on the field; Steelers linebacker James Harrison once ignorantly spewed, "Invite us when we DON'T win," when asked why he declined a presidential invitation to visit the White House, but ignorance in and of itself is not a direct insult or attack.
Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb had the misfortune of cameras catching him declaring the the Eagles made a mistake letting him go, but that was during a locker room breakdown, not an interview.
There are hundreds of NFL players who speak before they think, but this shows us they are competitive, in some cases ignorant and in almost every case they focus on a game rather than a personal attack.
A player would really need to cross a line to make fans and media question their moral compass.
Ladies and gentlemen, Antonio Cromartie!
His compass seems to point him in almost as many directions as his unfettered loins.
When asked about Tom Brady pointing to the score during the Jets' previous game in Gillette Stadium, Cromartie scoffed, "That's the kind of guy he is."
When asked to clarify, Cromartie continued, "He's an [orifice that emits foul odors and human waste]. (expletive) him."
The comments themselves aren't reprehensible, at least he didn't threaten to meet Brady in a dark alley like Joey Porter did to Jerramy Stevens before Super Bowl XL, or use a homosexual slur like Larry Johnson, but they are certainly unsportsmanlike.
In fact, I'd say they're more unsportsmanlike than the act which provoked them. At least Brady pointed at the score during a game with his competitive juices flowing; Cromartie just spouted off during an interview.
Still, the comments aren't what expose his moral misguidance, his faulty perspective is.
Would Cromartie characterize himself as a [butt]hole? I doubt it.
But Brady and his in-game arrogance fit the bill because "that's the kind of guy he is."
Speaking of what kind of man somebody is, Cromartie is the kind of man who fathers nine children with eight different women, in six states. Yet, here he sits in judgement of another man's character.
You know the old adage about people in glass houses throwing stones? Well, Cromartie's throwing bricks and he might as well live in a greenhouse.
When asked during HBO's Hard Knocks to name his children, Cromartie couldn't. It wasn't as though he couldn't remember their birthdays (several of which he could), favorite toys, best friends, or other details—he couldn't name them! He has nine children. He mentioned only eight. He actually named just seven.
Were Cromartie's comments out of line?
Seven out of nine ain't bad for a quarterback, but for a father it's despicable.
Sadly, this doesn't bother Cromartie but Brady's on-field antics do—enough for Cromartie take a personal shot at him and impugn his character.
Cromartie and Brady have never even met, a quality the Patriots QB apparently shares with contraceptives and a sense of priorities.
I can't blame Cromartie entirely though. The New York Jets themselves share some culpability. The organization has allowed its players and staff to boast freely, sexually harass reporters, rack up early-morning DUIs, physically disrupt opposing players during a game and falsely accuse other teams of cheating in a similar fashion.
There is a culture of zero accountability in New York, which is a shame because if players like Cromartie were forced to speak into a mirror rather than a microphone, they might not be so quick embarrass themselves.
But then again, I've never met Cromartie so what do I know? I'm just a (butt)hole with a keyboard.