This is the time of year when NFL rookies are learning about their new lives as professionals.
And Jets rookies have one of the best mentors they could possibly have.
Antonio Cromartie, of course.
Yes, the once-free-spending father of 10 (with eight different women) is now a role model.
“I want to help others learn from what I did wrong,” Cromartie told Bob Glauber of Newsday, in an eye-opening look at how he’s turned his financial ship around. “I tell the young guys, ‘Don’t spend any money the first year and a half of your career.
“You don’t know what will happen after that. You might be released. You might be hurt. Just save your money.”
Cromartie admits he blew through $5 million his first two years in the league, on the usual suspects (cars, jewelry, friends with their hands out).
“Gone. Just gone,” Cromartie said. “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.”
Now, he’s putting his four-year, $32 million contract in the hands of a new financial advisor, and Cromartie is proudly driving a Toyota Prius and bragging about how much he’s saving on gas.
“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,” said Jonathan Schwartz, who now handles Cromartie’s money. “[Cro] 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.’”
Schwartz said Cromartie’s retirement is now funded until he’d be 100 years old, and the investments should take care of all his children.
It’s a remarkable turnaround, and a remarkable lesson for young players on every team.