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NFL New York Jets

New York Jets Independance Day Player: Antonio Cromartie

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow shall bring another joyous July Fourth celebration filled with fireworks, parties and hot dogs. And the only thing that could make this Independence Day any better is a little football. It may be the Dallas Cowboys who claim to be “America’s Team,” we know that each clubhouse holds reflections of our great nation. So without further ado, this years New York Jets all-American player is Antonio Cromartie.

What constitutes an “all-American” player is up for debate, though I like to think of it in three categories. The first of which is travel – knowing the many regions of this great nation. Cromartie was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., only to move at the young age of two to Tallahassee, Fla. There he developed his football talents, and as we all know was then drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2006. It was then only fitting that he would be traded to the Jets in 2010, where he has since had a great career. And I won’t even mention his… ahem… endeavors with many ladies in a plethora of states.

The second attribute of an “all-American” is growth of character. We as a nation love redemption for those who have fallen (Michael Vick sure loves dogs now), and we pride ourselves on second-chance revivals (or more, if you’re Jay-Z). Not to mention a person intent on family. Very little needs to be said about Cromartie’s family (twelve children with eight women at last count), so I will instead focus on his maturation.

Cromartie was notorious for spending money, a fact which he admitted to in an interview with Newsday’s Bob Glauber last month:

“I was out of control. 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.”

CBS sports calculated that Cromartie spent $5 million in his first two years in the league alone. But recently, Cromartie has been making a conscience effort to end his old reckless ways. He has since hired a financial consultant, and swapped his two Dodge Chargers (because one is never enough) for a Prius. In another statement to Bob Glauber, Cromartie went even so far as to say:

“I want to help others learn from what I did wrong. 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.”

And, as mentioned in a previous article, Cromartie has now taken a leadership role in the Jets’ offseason, inviting players like Demario Davis, Quinton Coples and Stephen Hill to practice with him. Clearly, this once irresponsible player is now realizing what it means to be an adult, and us Jets fans can thank him for that.

And the last attribute of an all-American is work and success. Us Americans put wealthy men like Warren Buffet on a pedestal, as well as actors like Matt Damon (it’s not your fault!). Cromartie has certainly had his fair share of success as well. While No. 31′s most prolific year as a cornerback was in 2007 — where he accumulated 10 interceptions and 144 yards returning them — the Brooklyn native has stepped up his game for the Jets. This is especially true for last year, where he was thrust into the No. 1 spot after the untimely injury of Darrelle Revis. He led the secondary to being the second-best in the league, and the onus will be on him to do it again while the Jets go through this much-needed transition.

So, happy Fourth of July Jets fans. While you’re eating that hodgepodge of meats on a bun, just remember your team — Cromartie included — is celebrating with you.

Jeremy is a Jets writer for RantSports.com. Follow him/her on Twitter JeremyGoldstei1, “Like” him/her on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.