Cromartie, Antonio

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Antonio Cromartie is currently a cornerback for the New York Jets. Cromartie is credited with the longest play in NFL history, as he returned a missed Minnesota Vikings field goal 109 yards for a touchdown on November 4, 2007, while playing for the San Diego Chargers.

Contents

Background and college

Born April 15, 1984 in Tallahassee, Florida, Cromartie was a versatile player at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Florida, where he transferred after losing his starting position early in his early high school years at North Florida Christian School, also in Tallahassee. Throughout his senior season, Cromartie recorded 12 tackles and 2 interceptions, returned 3 punts and 2 kicks for TDs, had 450 yards and 1 touchdowns on 30 catches and ran the ball 13 times for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns. This was enough to earn Cromartie 2002 USA Today defensive player of the year. Considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Cromartie ranked sixth among cornerback prospects in the nation. Cromartie was also a standout in track and placed 3rd in the 110m hurdles and as a member of the 4x100 m relay team at the Class 4A County track meet.

Cromartie decided to stay close to home and committed to playing college football at Florida State. After flashing playmaking potential as a nickel back and kick returner his first two years, Cromartie tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee July, 2005 during voluntary workouts before his junior year and was forced to miss the entire season. He was potentially going to play at wide receiver during his junior year but didn't because of the season ending injury.

NFL Career

Before the Jets

Despite being removed from competitive football for an entire year, Cromartie was still selected as the 19th overall pick of the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft by San Diego based on his great potential. After not performing much at the NFL Scouting Combine, on March 16, 2006, just 8 months after surgery to repair his torn ACL, Cromartie performed at his pro day in 2006 for scouts.

On July 25, 2006, Cromartie signed a 5-year, $12.5 million contract with $7.35 million guaranteed with the Chargers. In his first season with the Chargers, Cromartie saw action at cornerback and on special teams. Toward the end of the season, Cromartie handled some punt and kickoff return duties. In a game against the Oakland Raiders, Cromartie returned a kickoff 91 yards, the longest return for the team since 2001.

On October 28, 2007, Cromartie had two interceptions, returning one 70 yards for a touchdown, 91 total interception return yards, and a fumble recovery for another touchdown while playing against the Houston Texans. Cromartie led the Chargers to a 35-10 victory over the Texans. He was subsequently nominated for the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award.

The following week, Cromartie made NFL history. Minnesota Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell came onto the field to attempt a 58-yard field goal to end the first half. The Chargers put Cromartie in the endzone to return the field goal in case of a missed kick. The field goal attempt missed the goalposts and fell toward the back of the endzone. Cromartie caught the football, came down with both feet in bounds, two inches from the back of the end zone, and began the return. Cromartie returned the missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown at The Metrodome, setting a record for the longest play in NFL history. The next week Cromartie made his first NFL start in place of the injured Quentin Jammer and intercepted three passes thrown by Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts; the last of which was a leaping one-handed interception in front of Colts WR Reggie Wayne. Cromartie called the one-handed interception the best play of his short career. He is the first player to intercept Peyton Manning three times in one game during the regular season, and earned Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in the game. Cromartie ended up going to the Pro Bowl after getting double-digit interceptions, which set a Chargers record for interceptions.

On November 24, 2007, Cromartie became the starting cornerback, replacing Drayton Florence (who became a free agent at the end of the season).

In the AFC Divisional game against the Indianapolis Colts, Cromartie recorded another interception against Peyton Manning, and his defensive efforts during the game (including a forced fumble against Marvin Harrison) helped the Chargers knock off the defending-champion Colts. In the AFC Championship game, Cromartie recorded an interception against the Patriots.

On December 16, 2007, Cromartie set a franchise record by recording his 10th interception of the season, breaking the previous record of 9 interceptions set by Charlie McNeil in 1961. His 10 interceptions led the NFL for number of interceptions in 2007. In addition, Cromartie had 2 post season interceptions. Cromartie was one of three cornerbacks selected to the 2007 AFC Pro Bowl team, his first selection. At the Pro Bowl, Cromartie intercepted two passes.

Cromartie did not have as a successful third season. After stating before the season began that he'd like to break the all-time interception record in a season (14), he managed only 2 interceptions for the season. At the end of the season, Cromartie announced that he played the entire season with a broken hip. The injury was sustained in the first week of the season against the Carolina Panthers.

As a Jet

On March 4, 2010, Cromartie was traded to the New York Jets for a third-round draft pick in 2011 that could turn into a second-round pick depending on Cromartie's performance. Not long after, the Jets gave Cromartie $500,000 to pay off child support debts.

Personal

Cromartie has four younger siblings: two sisters, Shakita Gradener and Sade Gardener, and two brothers: Khalid Williams and T.J Williams.

He is a cousin of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was an All-American cornerback at Tennessee State University, and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Cromartie has seven children with six women living in five states, and has been named in at least five paternity suits in the past two years.

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