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“Don’t think. Feel.”
-Bruce Lee, “Enter the Dragon.”
New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie stated earlier this week that he was a better “playmaker” than the exalted Philaeldphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, whose game received a lyrically meditative treatment by the New York Times earlier this week. The aftermath of Cromartie’s quote was not as lyrically meditative; rather, a hyper analytical assessment was rendered hovering anywhere between zealous rebuke to qualified agreement rife with analysis.
A cumulative analysis of Cromartie’s statement falls in the same vein of complexity as writing a logical proof. If you assess the quality of a “playmaker” by the number of “big plays” he makes, such as from interceptions and kick off returns, then Cromartie, by virtue of being a kick-off returner and having his defensive assignments targetted for more passes than Asomugha, is indeed the better “playmaker.” Statistics support this logical proposition: Cromartie has had 20 interceptions over the last five seasons, as compared to Asomugha, who has had 12.
Further still, if you consider a “playmaker” more valuable than a pre-emptive play preventer like Asomugha; if you consider generating points on the board instantaneously through interceptions and kick off returns for long yardage, thereby also having an seismic impact on the game and perhaps a deleteriously abrupt psychological or strategic impact on opposing offenses, then even if Cromartie meant he was a “better player” than Asomugha, his statement has some validity.
Of course, Asomugha has not had nearly the same number of playmaking opportunities as Cromartie has had for a variety of reasons, the most compelling of which is that opposing quarterbacks are specifically instructed not to pass the ball in Asomugha’s direction. Other contributing reasons for the disparity in playmaking opportunities:
But what if Asomugha, who is now playing for the Eagles, doesn’t make big plays deep into the season, while Cromartie continues to perform well? Does this lend validity to Cromartie’s statement…
Since when did press analysis become more detailed than a first year law school exam? What we have in Antonio Cromartie is a freakish athlete with a supreme level of confidence based on his strong play on a Superbowl contender team. Cromartie did not make his statement based on visits to various statistometric websites, but on how he feels on the field. Given his freakish athletic abilities and more than enough game-changing plays to back his attitude up, that Cromartie feels like a better playmaker than Asomugha, as opposed to thinking otherwise, is not a mark of hubris or delusionment. Rather, Cromartie’s disposition gleans a pro-bowl season and perhaps a game-changing play deep into the playoffs.
Of course, sports fans’ opportunity to share in that feeling can get muffled if they are constantly implored to over-think athletes’ statements instead.