The fact that he didn’t even have sense enough to be embarrassed said it all.
On a recent episode of the HBO reality show “Hard Knocks,” New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie struggled to remember something that, for most fathers, is a no-brainer.
Cromartie had to use his fingers to count all the children he had fathered.
Turns out he has eight. With six different women. In five states. Heck, he even had trouble remembering their birthdates and names.
On top of that, Cromartie’s only 26 – but he has some folks joking about whether he’s aiming to set records for knocking down receivers or for knocking up women.
This isn’t funny, though. It’s sad. It’s sad that black men like Cromartie don’t see the damage they do when they perpetuate such stereotypes. For far too many of them, fame means having the freedom to get away with bad behavior, rather than an opportunity to set good examples.
But I’m not going to beat up on Cromartie too much right now. I know what he is: A young black man who grew up fatherless, a young black man who, like millions of others, are left to their own devices to figure out what manhood looks and feels like.
And like so many others, Cromartie keeps getting it wrong.
Today, however, I want to direct some attention to his enablers. Those would be the six women who allowed him to impregnate them – and to invariably leave them with a life that will be marked by them expending countless hours in court trying to force him to live up to the responsibilities spawned by everyone’s irresponsibility.
According to the Miami Herald, the Jets had to front Cromartie $500,000 before he played for them, just to cover all the paternity suits.
That means trouble in the future. But the fact that they, like so many other women, are willing to settle for life as a baby mama speaks to how confused they are.
I’m going to take a wild guess here and bet that few, if any, of the mothers of Cromartie’s children stopped taking their birth control because he promised that he was going to marry them.
There was a time when a woman might get careless if she had a long, loving relationship with a man and had reason to believe they were going to have a future together. That still wouldn’t be smart, but at least it would be an action based on the idea of bringing a child into the world with the promise of stability instead of just bling.
But chances are that’s not the case with Cromartie’s women. The fact that they’re having to sue him to force him to take care of his children proves that. The fact that his relationships were apparently so casual that he has trouble remembering the names of the offspring he spawned with them also proves that.
Sadly, they’ve hitched their fortunes to becoming professional baby mamas. And as far as career moves go, that’s dumb.
Now, I’m sure that these women probably did their homework on how many millions Cromartie makes. Some have probably figured out how they can finagle enough cash out of their child support for a sports car or other luxuries.
But what they should also know is that the average pro football career lasts only six years, and that most players wind up broke afterward.
This is especially true for players like Cromartie; men who celebrate their NFL invincibility by racking up baby mamas.
Just ask his doppelganger, former running back Travis Henry, who is now penniless after fathering nine children.
Like I said, dumb career move.
But like Cromartie, his children’s mothers probably hail from the same, fractured reality; one in which black boys are left to define themselves by the rewards that their physicality can bestow upon them, and one in which young black women base their esteem and their futures on how well they can make their physicality work for them.
At some point, this has got to change. Because from what we know so far, none of this ever ends well.