Former New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who played under Mike Pettine from 2010 to 2012, offered his opinion on "PlaybookGate," claiming the current Cleveland Browns coach was just looking for publicity by revealing his suspicions about the New England Patriots.
"I think it's all wanting to make up a story, because their team is not getting talked about a lot as other teams," Cromartie, now with the Arizona Cardinals, said Thursday on the NFL Network. "I think that's what it really is."
Earth to Cromartie: The Browns have been generating headlines throughout the offseason. Ever hear of Johnny Manziel?
Cromartie, whose clashes with Pettine have been well documented, continued.
"I've been around Pettine. Pettine is that kind of person," he said. "I've been around him for my first three years in New York. I think it's, you know, something he wants to build about."
ProFootballTalk.com tracked down Pettine on his vacation in Hawaii, giving him a chance to explain the comments that started the firestorm. In case you missed it (really, how could you?), Pettine told TheMMQB.com that he suspects Bill Belichick received a copy of the Jets' playbook from Alabama coach Nick Saban, who was given the playbook by Rex Ryan on a visit to the Jets' facility.
In the interview with PFT, Pettine downplayed the benefit of having another team's playbook and said he "didn't mean to imply it was gathered illegally. ... To me, it's a sign of a smart team. We're not actively pursuing playbooks, but when they fall in your laps, you'll study it.”
Interestingly, the PFT post had no comments from Pettine about his relationship with Ryan, which figures to be more strained than ever. Pettine said his motivation for giving the anecdote to TheMMQB.com was to illustrate the importance of not putting too much information in playbooks because they can end up in the wrong hands. Whether it was intentional or not, he made Ryan -- his mentor -- look bad by saying he gives away playbooks "like candy."
Pettine's anecdote was buried near the bottom of a long profile. Moral of the story: You can't truly bury a titillating item about the Jets, the Patriots and, um, unusual information-gathering methods.