FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — It was the most rattled Tom Brady had looked all season.
As the Patriots quarterback stood at the podium on Wednesday morning for his weekly press conference, he inevitably had to answer a question about Antonio Cromartie's remarks last year in the playoffs when he called the Patriots quarterback a ... well, a not very nice word. Cromartie and the Jets then backed up their hatred for Brady in a 28-21 divisional round win at Gillette Stadium, a game in which Brady looked very ordinary. So when Brady was asked the question as to if he felt the remarks by Cromartie were justified, he pursed his lips and fidgeted uncomfortably.
"I really don't care what he says," Brady said. "Thanks guys."
Brady then walked off the stage, calling an abrupt end to his press conference, as you can see below.
But down I-95 in New Jersey, Cromartie was on lockdown about his remarks from nine months earlier. There was no apology and no backing down from the cornerback, who refused to acknowledge the words he used last year, but didn't distance himself from them either.
"I have nothing to add, my feelings are the same. Nothing's going to change," Cromartie said. "Whatever I said last year."
Brady is putting together an outstanding season, having thrown for 1,553 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. His success is in large part due to an offensive line which has seen him get sacked just four times, the fourth-lowest number in the league.
Cromartie, on the other hand, struggled mightily in the first quarter of the Week 1 win over Dallas, getting pulled off Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant after just one series. Two weeks later, he drew two pass interference calls in a loss in Oakland.
There was an acknowledgment that Brady is "the best in the league," but Cromartie said that he hopes again to be targeted by the Patriots after his performance last year in the divisional playoff win. Brady's three Super Bowl rings, multiple Pro Bowl appearances and reputation as one of the best to ever play the game mean nothing to Cromartie.
There was no "eating Cro" from the Jets cornerback — not even close.
"I'm not going to change how I feel about Tom Brady from what I said last year. Do I respect him? Yes," Cromartie said. "He's a guy with three Super Bowl rings, but when we're on the football field, I don't give a damn."
(Here is video of Tom Brady walking out after the question, but note that there is an audio problem).