New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie takes his craft very seriously, and his teammates have noticed.
Before training camp begins in July, the Jets have a six-week break after mini-camp ends for players to regroup and prepare for the rigors of the NFL preseason. Cromartie is using that time to work. And he won’t be alone.
It all started when Cromartie was telling his teammates in the Jets secondary about his plans to spend his six-week vacation out in California, where he trains each year with a personal trainer and a rigid workout regimen.
When second-year safety Josh Bush joked about coming out to California with Cromartie, a few teammates chimed in, and eventually an impromptu plan for a team bonding experience was formed.
“Everybody is saying ‘you’re in the best shape,'” Bush told Cromartie. “So we’re coming out there with you.”
Cromartie will now train with Bush, cornerbacks Aaron Berry and Kyle Wilson and others, including wide receiver Stephen Hill, who can offer a live opponent to practice against. It won’t be a put-your-feet-up vacation.
Already lauded in the locker room for his work ethic, from everything from studying film to leading by example with his play on the field, Cromartie’s relentless pursuit of perfection has inspired teammates and coaches alike.
“I see him taking another step,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “There’s no doubt. … As far as his leadership as well, bringing guys with him … The kind of shape he’s in, people want to know, ‘what are you doing?'”
In addition to renting a house together, Cromartie and his teammates will train in multiple ways, from pulling sleds and throwing tires, to boxing workouts and yoga. They’ll also do on-field work to build rapport together.
“We’ll be able to build that relationship with a lot of the guys [in our secondary] so our communication [in the defensive backfield] will be top-notch,” Bush said. “And we’ll get in the best shape possible.”
The evolution of Antonio Cromartie into a true leader and role model has been a revelation for the Jets, and his midsummer “vacation” with his young teammates is just the latest example of that metamorphosis.