Now it's personal.
The New York Jets' trash talk has been escalating all week prior to Sunday's divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots, starting when Rex Ryan criticized Tom Brady for pointing at the Jets' sideline after a touchdown pass gave the Patriots a 38-3 lead in Week 13's 45-3 blowout at Gillette Stadium.
But while Ryan has caught the majority of the flak for speaking his mind, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who joined the Jets prior to the start of the season after four seasons with the San Diego Chargers, catapulted things into the stratosphere with an obscenity-laced interview with the New York Daily News on Tuesday.
When asked if he's ever seen Brady point at the Jets' sideline after a score, Cromartie agreed -- a little too emphatically.
"We see that a lot. He does it a lot," Cromartie told the Daily News. "That's the kind of guy he is. We really don't give a damn, to tell you the truth."
So Brady is ...
"An ass----. ---- him."
Cromartie said there was clear evidence from watching game film. "He's doing the pointing at our defensive line and stuff like that," he said. "That's the kind of a guy he is. He's a competitor, he loves what he's doing. He's going to compete. When you're competing, you are not worrying about anything else, about what anybody else is doing. You're just worried about what you have to do."
Cromartie was asked why he feels this way about Brady.
"I don't really give a damn about him. I don't have to play against him. I play against the receivers."
And not against Brady.
"Yeah, but if I beat the s--- out of his receivers, he can't throw the ball."
When asked for comment Wednesday, Brady laughed.
"I've been called worse," he told reporters in front of his locker. I'm sure there's a long list of people that feel that way but he's a good player, (Darrelle) Revis is a great player. They've got a great secondary. They're one of the best defenses we face. We're going to spend a lot of time preparing for them."
He also responded to Ryan's accusation that he pointed to the Jets' sideline after big plays.
"I'm an emotional player, so it's all in the spirit of the game and the competition," Brady said. "I don't know (if there's anything to Ryan's observations), he can probably answer that better than I could."
Brady said the war of words didn't bother him.
"We're spending our time getting ready to play," he said. "I don't think we're spending our time figuring out what we can do to combat what people may say about us. Not everybody has great things to say about our team or organization, or certain players. That's kind of the way it's always been. We're just going to do our talking on the field. That's the way we've always chosen to do."
Ryan also was asked about Cromartie's comments during his Wednesday conference call.
"As an organization we respect Tom Brady, there no question about it," he said. "But you know, hey, is there dislike between us and Brady and Brady against the Jets? Of course there is. Am I gonna punish Cromartie for saying something or whatever? No.
"We respect New England. But we don't fear 'em. And a comment like that is just the fact that they're the enemy as we look at them this week."