BRADENTON -- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has one thing to say: It was never about the money.
In an NFL where dollars dominate the landscape, he often sounds like a kid out for his first Pop Warner game. The young man known as DRC says he plays for the love of the game.
It does help when high powered Eugene Parker is your agent. He can do all the heavy lifting when it comes to contract negotiations.
But DRC insists his feelings are genuine.
Last March when NFL free agency kicked off, Rodgers-Cromartie's name was bandied about for turning down a $54 million, six-year offer to return to the Denver Broncos.
The cornerback never commented, but the numbers were later proven to be in accurate; the only guaranteed money was a $5 million signing bonus.
"I wasn't worried," DRC said.
He eventually signed a five-year deal with the New York Giants for $15 million guaranteed.
The Lakewood Ranch graduate, who turns 28 on April 7, said the commotion did not excite him.
"It was never about the money. At the end of the day that is going to come as long as you produce on the field," DRC said. "I want respect. I never thought about the money. But that (Denver) is in the past. I don't want to talk about it. I want to focus on the Giants."
Rodgers-Cromartie is in town focusing on his DRC Foundation Celebrity Charity weekend that includes his fifth annual Celebrity Slam Jam basketball game. It will tip off at 7 p.m. Friday at Southeast High following an autograph session that begins at 5:30 p.m.
Among those expected to participate are current local NFL players Mike Jenkins (Tampa Bay), Mistral Raymond (Minnesota), Ace Sanders (Jacksonville) and Sam Shields (Green Bay). Others include Anquan Boldin (San Francisco), Jacoby Jones (Baltimore), Antrel Rolle (Giants) and Demaryius Thomas (Denver).
In signing with the Giants, DRC will be returning to the NFC East, where he played two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before his year with Denver.
The NFC East is no picnic, especially with quarterbacks Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Nick Foles and his new teammate, Eli Manning. The receivers include Dez Bryant, Pierre Garcon and DRC's former teammate, DeSean Jackson, who just signed with the Washington Redskins.
"You have to be all in to do well in that division," DRC said. "They have great quarterbacks and receivers. I went against DeSean in practice, and I am looking forward to competing against him. You have to keep up with him and find some way to disrupt him."
DRC is considered to be the marquee piece in the Giants' revamped secondary that includes Prince Amukamara, the other projected starter at cornerback.
A six-year veteran, DRC is coming off what might be his best season in the NFL, at least the best since his Pro Bowl year in 2009.
He was Pro Football Focus' fifth-ranked cornerback in 2013 with a +13.0 and a 67.8 passer rating against quarterbacks and allowed only 30 completions in 68 targets (44.1 percent)
He ranked third in PFF's signature stat, coverage snaps per reception, with a 15.7 mark, behind only Seattle's Richard Sherman and Tampa Bay's Darrelle Revis.
Few if any have doubted DRC's talent and unlimited potential. Earlier in his career some questioned his commitment, but he erased doubts last year, which is one reason he likes coming to the Giants and playing under head coach Tom Coughlin.
"Coach Coughlin runs a tight ship, and I like that. It helps me. He just told me be ready and I will be," DRC said.
The Giants aggressively courted DRC and invited him out to a dinner that included Coughlin, the defensive backs coach and secondary coach.
Later Coughlin summed up part of what he said to DRC: "Are you the best receiver on their team? I am following you then."
DRC got his respect. Two days later, he signed with the Giants.
Tickets for the Celebrity Slam Jam are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. They can be purchased at the KDS Hair Studio at 2116 First St. W. in Bradenton, or online at www.DRCFoundation.org. DRC Foundation says all proceeds go to fund its programs for underprivileged children and low-income families and support its mission. On Sunday, the DRC Foundation 7 on 7 Flag Football Tournament will be held at Thonotosassa Giants Fields at 10115 East Main Street, Thonotosassa, starting at 9 a.m. Admission is free.