Most people would be terrified if you told them the younger players on the New York Jets take advice from Antonio Cromartie. This is a guy who has 10 children with eight different women and once struggled to remember all of their names. The 29-year-old cornerback doesn’t exactly act like a role model, but apparently he knows a great deal about blowing money.
In a recent interview with Newsday’s Bob Glauber, Cromartie admitted to blowing through $5 million during his first two seasons in the NFL. He spent nearly all of the guaranteed money from his rookie contract with the Chargers on nine cars, two homes, jewelry, massive shopping sprees, and cash handouts for friends and family. Now, he has changed his ways and is trying to stop others from making the same mistakes he made.
“I was out of control,” Cromartie told Glauber. “I had two Dodge Chargers, probably spent $100,000 just fixing them up,” he said. “I had a ’65 Caprice, which I spent $100,000 on. I had two BMWs, two Escalades. 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.”
Despite the fact that he agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal with the Jets two years ago, Cromartie now drives a Prius.
“I’ll fill it up every 2 1/2 weeks or so, and I’m only spending 33 bucks, while everybody else is spending 80 or 90 bucks a tank,” he said. “Right now, I’m all about saving money. … I try to put away as much money as I possibly can and live on a budget. I learned the hard way.”
Cromartie said it all changed when his former agent, the late Gary Wichard, put him in touch with an accountant named Jonathan Schwartz. Not only did Schwartz become Cromartie’s financial advisor, he also invited him to live with him for two weeks so he could get a sense of what a settled home life was all about.
“[Cromartie] didn’t surround himself with caring and loving people, and I wanted him to see me and my family and realize I cared about him. I wanted him to see a family life,” Schwartz explained. “My intention was to show him that there are people who love you for who you are, not for how much you make. When I first met him, I saw a wonderful heart and human being that people were taking advantage of, and I wanted to be a part of seeing his personal growth. Part of that is financial discipline.”
A 2009 survey in Sports Illustrated found that close to 80% of retired former NFL players file for bankruptcy at some point. By not spending insane amounts of money when first entering the league, Cromartie said that can be avoided.
“I tell the young guys, ‘Don’t spend any money the first year and a half of your career,'” he said. “You don’t know what will happen after that. You might be released. You might be hurt. Just save your money.”
When people come to Cromartie looking for money now, he refers them to Schwartz. Oftentimes we can take comments like this to mean that a player doesn’t have his head on straight, but it sounds like that is not the case for the Jets’ top corner. He clearly has a lot of wisdom to pass on to his younger teammates, who would wise to soak it all in.Google+