When asked about the validity of a derogatory comment Cromartie made about Brady during the playoffs last season (roughly 9 months ago) at a press conference, Brady looked uncomfortable, shifting around and contorting his face in response. After a brief but awkward silence Brady offered just this:
"I really don't care what he says," Brady said. "Thanks guys."
With that, he walked off the stage and out of his own weekly press conference in Foxboro, attended by mostly Patriots and New England sports beat writers. What was the word Cro called Brady that rattled him so to hear again? If you're not offended by a word you can hear every night on basic cable, find out after the jump.
I'll give you a brief and badly paraphrased history lesson of the real life equivalent of Madden smack talk. Leading up to our postseason victory over the Pats; Cromartie was asked what he thought about Tom Brady pointing and laughing at the Jets sideline after throwing a TD in the Pats game last year that you'd rather not remember. Cromartie's response was essentially "That's the kind of guy he is." When asked to elaborate, Cromartie could only describe him as an a-hole.
Cromartie, for his part, has not backed off of his statements. Instead he stood firm but offered a complimentary non apology:
"I have nothing to add, my feelings are the same. Nothing's going to change," Cromartie said. "Whatever I said last year."
"I'm not going to change how I feel about Tom Brady from what I said last year. Do I respect him? Yes," Cromartie said. "He's a guy with three Super Bowl rings, but when we're on the football field, I don't give a damn."
I fear I may pay for it in the afterlife, but I actually have to defend Brady here. Most peoples reaction to a person asking them "Hey, this guy called you an asshole, do you agree with that assessment?" probably wouldn't be nearly so subdued. There's a lot of things you can say to take pot shots at Cro, but he didn't. Brady looked like he might cry for a second, but he didn't throw a fit and he took the high road in a very loose manner of speaking.
I think it's a normal reaction to lash out at a player for a rival you already hate for saying or doing dumb or immature things. However in the Cromartie v. Brady war of words, it seems largely manufactured by blood thirsty beat reporters if you look at it carefully. It's easy to focus on the insult extracted from Cro, but if you read the stories from both seasons, the comments are cherry picked from a larger body of both players comments that they did not care for the opinions of others and would let their playing do the talking. I guess Brady just didn't feel like playing along this week.
I will say that quality of questions comes into play. When a reporter asks what someones response to being called an asshole is, they already know the answer. Truth be told they're not even asking a question, they're just telling that person that they were called a name. Which is something you'd sooner expect at a high school lunch table over a press room.
I could weasel my way into Florham and say to Cro "Wes Welker says you sling your yogurt across the country with such speed and intensity that it would make Jamie Lee Curtis blush, would you say that's a valid statement?" I'm not really asking him anything, but rather just instigating.
Don't get me wrong, I understand where they are coming from. Rivalries with harsh words and quarterbacks storming off into the night sell more papers and get more hits on websites. But my 9 year old nephew can go start a fight, it doesn't take a professional. I say the same thing about Cimini; when you have to make the news, it's time to find something else to do.
In any event I'm willing to bet a few grudge passes come Cromartie's way this Sunday, no matter whom he covers. Let's see if Cro can take on his better form and back up his strong words this weekend.