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Antonio Cromartie crushes teammate Stephen Hill in practice, later says ‘Don’t cry, play ball’

Anwar S. Richardson
Shutdown Corner

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New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie may not be the person teammate Stephen Hill turns to if the receiver faces a difficult moment in the future.

Players in an NFL locker room are typically ingrained to believe it is “us vs. them” every day. The media is against you. Opposing teams are your enemies. The only people who will have your back are your teammates in the locker room. It is like being a part of the “CMB” crew in the movie "New Jack City." (Spoiler alert: After fighting many turf wars together, Wesley Snipes eventually turned on his best friend.)

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That leads us to Cromartie’s actions during Jets practice yesterday.

According to Michael Fensom of The Star-Ledger, Cromartie delivered a hit on Hill during a goal-line drill that was so vicious, it left his teammate gasping for air on the ground. That eventually led to a scuffle between offensive and defensive players.

Cromartie was confronted by Nick Mangold, the Jets center, after practice. Mangold did not appreciate Cromartie’s over-aggressive play, and let him know about it. Cromartie, who was wearing a dark-tinted visor on his facemask, had a simple reply:

“Don’t cry, play ball.”

Those are probably not the words to put on an apology card from Hallmark, but Hill said he was not injured on the play, nor did he have any resentment toward his teammate. Considering Santonio Holmes is still recovering from a foot injury, and no timetable for his return, Cromartie’s unnecessary action could have made things worse for New York’s offense if the receiver was injured.

Jets coach Rex Ryan agreed.

“I don’t think he intended to certainly hurt Stephen, but still, we’ve got to be smarter,” Ryan said, according to The Star-Ledger. “We have to take care of each other.”

It is good to see Cromartie is finally willing to lay a hit on someone.

When Cromartie played for the San Diego Chargers, his team faced the Jets during a playoff game in 2010, and the cornerback ran toward running back Shonn Greene but famously stopped in his tracks to avoid making the tackle in the fourth quarter with the Chargers trailing 10-7. He also shied away from tackling former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow with the Jets during a regular season game in 2011.

Apparently though, he a pretty mean hitter in practice against his teammates.

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