Antonio Cromartie — the New York Jets cornerback who blew through $5 million in his first two years in the NFL and has fathered 12 children with eight different women — claims he is turning over a new leaf and will become the voice of reason for the incoming crop of Jets rookies and teach them not to make the same mistakes he did.
In an interview with Newsday, Cromartie tells reporter Bob Glauber that his days of reckless spending have come to an end and that he is "all about saving money."
"I had two Dodge Chargers, probably spent $100,000 just fixing them up," he said. "I had a '65 Caprice, which I spent $100,000 on. I had two BMWs, two Escalades."
Cromartie doesn't remember the other two cars. And he said he came close to buying a Lamborghini, a car that can cost $500,000 or more.
"I was out of control," Cromartie said. "I remember [former Chargers teammate] Quentin Jammer used to tell me to slow down, but I couldn't do it. I just loved spending money."
Cromartie - who is the middle of a four-year, $32 million contract with the Jets - has now recruited the help of a financial adviser, who credits the transformation to showing the 29-year-old athlete what it's like to have a "settled" home life.
"I can tell a lot of things to a lot of clients, but that doesn't mean they'll listen and accept what I say and practice that discipline," Cromartie's adviser Jonathan Schwartz said. "[Cromartie] buys into it. He knows that a professional athlete's earning period is limited, and that the best form of accumulating wealth is not to spend. His peers will go buy Rolls Royces and Ferraris and diamond jewelry, but 25 years from now, Antonio can still maintain his lifestyle, sit at the beach enjoying a cocktail and say, 'I've earned it.'"
Cromartie, who has 12 children with eight different women in six different states, says he wants to be a role-model for younger players who might be tempted to make the same mistakes he made as a young athlete with a lot of money.
The All-Pro player, who is now married and has two children with his wife, Terricka, is an unlikely advocate about the benefits of putting money in the bank.
"I tell the young guys, "'Don't spend any money the first year and a half of your career,'" Cromartie said. "You don't know what will happen after that. You might be released. You might be hurt. Just save your money."
Cromartie might also be the team's pitchman for going green. Schwartz introduced his client to the hybrid Prius automobile and says the Jets player is fond of tooling around in the un-flashy ride — although some old free-spending habits seem hard to break.
"I'm gonna put some rims on it," said Cromartie. "That's about it, though."