SAN DIEGO -- Antonio Cromartie now can tweet this: He has been fined.
The San Diego Chargers ordered their star cornerback to pay $2,500 for using Twitter to wonder whether the "nasty food" at training camp has contributed to the team failing to reach the Super Bowl in recent years.
Cromartie said Chargers coach Norv Turner pulled him out of a meeting Tuesday and notified him that he was being fined for his Twitter comments. Cromartie also was given a letter that spelled out the fine.
Cromartie had a good laugh over the matter, but he said he'll be more careful in the future. Still, he won't stop tweeting.
Cromartie also believes the fine is a bit excessive.
"But other than that, I mean, I ain't going to take back what I said," Cromartie said after practice Tuesday afternoon. "I said what I had to say. But at the end of the day, I mean, I got fined for talking about nutrition and that. I can't really say too much else.
"I just thought it was harmless. It was just me talking about the food and stuff. I took it as a joke. But other people took it as a different kind of way."
Cromartie believes someone in the team's executive suite lodged a complaint against him.
"I didn't think it would cause a stir like I did, but me being me, I think I'm going to keep my mouth shut from here on out," he said. "I ain't going to say nothing else. I want to make sure I keep everything positive. Obviously, I mean, I can't really say what I really want to say. My freedom of speech has actually been taken away."
Cromartie said Turner told the players not to tweet while they're in the building and not to write messages critical of the organization.
The Chargers use Twitter as a promotional tool, but apparently, they are worried about what their players have to say on the Web site. The team even scooped the NFL during the draft in April by announcing their first-round pick via both Twitter and on their Web site before commissioner Roger Goodell announced it in New York.
Asked if there was a double standard, Cromartie said: "I can't say what I really want to say."
Cromartie had his laptop in his locker. He tapped it out of standby mode, and guess what? "It's on Twitter right now," he said with a laugh.
Said Turner: "We're trying to be open and give the fans a look at what we're doing, but certainly we're not going to go out of our way to give our opponents a competitive advantage or give them something that we feel should stay in our building. So that's been our approach with any forms of media that we're involved with."
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith didn't return a call seeking comment.
Some Chargers players, such as quarterback Philip Rivers and running back LaDainian Tomlinson, want nothing to do with Twitter. But the team has some hard-core tweeters, including linebacker Shawne Merriman.
Asked about Cromartie's fine, Merriman said: "That's steep, man. That's half a new set of rims or something. Those had better be some powerful words and they better be reaching a lot more than the 40,000 people I have right now."
The fine set off some interesting tweets from Cromartie and Merriman.
Tweeted Merriman: "lets make a deal if all yall pitch in a dollar ill tweet more they handing out fines like free turkeys on thanksgiving, ya dig?" A few minutes later, he wrote: "you can be tough alllllll you want to but the first time you get hit for a $2500 fine my name goes from LightsOut to just switch lol."
Cromartie posted this: "I wld like to think (sic) all my new followers since I got fine I promise I wnt let u down ok look forward to sum grt stuff 2 come." And this: "man we had a grt practice 2day The defense flow aroun nd we made a lot of plays every1 knows I have 2 watch wht i say now cause i got fined."
Then this from Merriman: "And by the way i thought the food was AMAZING today haha yea im a suck up."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press