In the aftermath of Antonio Cromartie’s candid assessment of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, reaction poured in from every nook and cranny of the football world, including the anticipated diplomatic response from the target of Cromartie’s venom.
The verbal assault on Brady also struck a chord with one of the renowned clutch performers in Major League Baseball history, and inspired him enough to publicly express his feelings on the matter.
During 1050 ESPN Radio’s The Michael Kay Show, New York Yankee legend Reggie Jackson made an unscheduled appearance on the program to relay a poignant message to the brash New York Jets cornerback.
"What are you talking about? What are you doing? Shut up, play football," Jackson said when asked for his thoughts on Cromartie’s comments. "What are you talking about Bill Belichick and these people for? Spend your time looking at film, spend your time knocking down a pass. What are you doing? You're not affecting Brady; you're wasting time."
As a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a five-time World Series Champion, Jackson, nicknamed “Mr. October” for his memorable postseason heroics, fervently rallied to the defense of Brady, who’s destined to stroll into Canton on the first ballot and whose playoff resume is equally prodigious.
"This guy is an automatic Hall of Famer; making fun of him is like making fun of Mariano Rivera," Jackson added. "What are you doing?"
Prior to joining the Jets this season, Cromartie was a member of the San Diego Chargers from 2006-2009.
During this span, the Chargers went 46-18 (.719) in the regular season and 3-4 (.429) in the playoffs, with no Super Bowl appearances to show for all their success when it counted least.
In addition, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were directly responsible for half of San Diego’s four playoff exits when Cromartie was on the roster.
After a 14-2 season, the Chargers were stunned by New England, 24-21, in the 2007 AFC Divisional Playoffs. Brady threw for 280 yards, two touchdowns and led the Patriots on an eight-play, 72-yard drive for the game-winning field goal.
In the following year’s AFC Championship Game, Brady broke San Diego’s hearts yet again with another two-touchdown performance.
This time Brady sealed the deal with a six-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring in a 21-12 New England victory.
So Cromartie is much more familiar with Brady than many people may realize and, apparently, familiarity has bred contempt.
But Reggie Jackson was completely unsympathetic to Cromartie’s deep-seated resentment of the two-time Super Bowl MVP.
"Go look at the hardware, dude. Walk through the lobby up there and look at the stuff that's there," Jackson went to say. "You don't have that, you don't have anything close to that. You might want to shut up, you might learn something. Read, you might figure something out. Watch film, you might get educated.
"If not," he added, "you have a chance to get embarrassed on Sunday. I hope you don't, because I like the Jets."
Will those same feelings be reciprocated by Antonio Cromartie?
Privately or publicly, chances are Cromartie will have the same two-word responses for Jackson’s comments as he did when questioned about Tom Brady.