Former NFL cornerback Antonio Cromartie told Bleacher Report that he believes the Indianapolis Colts cut him during his final season in the league because he chose to protest social injustice and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.
“It ain’t have nothing to do with my age, it ain’t have nothing to do with my style of play,” he said. “It was because I took a knee.”
The now 35-year-old doesn’t get mentioned as often as Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee in 2016, but Cromartie says he paid the same price and it ended his career.
Cromartie says Colts head coach Chuck Pagano told players they couldn’t take a knee during the national anthem, but he pushed back on it and did it anyway.
“I turned around to some of the guys and I spoke to them, and I’m like, ‘So when it’s about leukemia and your cancer, it’s cool. But when it’s about police brutality and social injustice, it’s not cool,’ ” Cromartie said. “I told Chuck Pagano that. I told him straight up, ‘Man, that’s (expletive).’ “
“It’s all ‘football is bigger than what is going on the outside,’ ” Cromartie continued. “No it ain’t. How about respecting the guys that’s getting murdered and killed by police officers? And I’m not saying all police officers is bad. But you get some, they get that little power in they hand and they abuse that power.”
Following the Colts’ Week 4 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cromartie was called into the facility to meet with Pagano and informed he was being cut. At the time, Pagano stated other Colts defenders were getting healthy and the team didn’t need him anymore.
The four-time Pro Bowler and a one-time All-Pro received just one tryout after he was released and never played in the NFL again.
“At the end of the day, the only thing we did was give people a voice that didn’t have a voice,” he says. “And it brought more attention to what really was going on.”
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