Everything done in the dark, eventually comes to light.
On Wednesday, Bleacher Report’s “Untold Stories” hosted by Master Tesfatsion released its latest episode with former NFL defensive back Antonio Cromartie, in which he discusses how taking a knee in peaceful protest during the 2016 season led to him being cut by the Indianapolis Colts, ultimately ending his career.
“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,’ ” said Cromartie when discussing how former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano asked the players not to kneel. “I told Chuck Pagano that. I told him straight up, ‘Man, that’s bulls**t.”
Pagano became a rallying cry for the franchise and the league after he underwent treatments for leukemia during the 2012 season, forcing him to miss parts of that season.
“I can remember me, right before the national anthem, first time I took a knee,” he continued. “What’s funny is, two or three of the executive guys were standing behind me and was like, ‘Cro, get up.’ I was like ‘Man, f**k y’all, I’m not getting up.’
“One person even had a towel to try to block it, you know for nobody wanting to take a picture, but they already had took a picture.”
The pictures exist. Google them.
“And then Week 4, we are in London and they came up to me before the game and was like, ‘Hey, Cro, please don’t take a knee.’ So it was like, ‘Man, y’all better get out my face. Y’all not fitting to sit here and tell me what I can and cannot do.’ I actually got benched that game. I got pulled out at halftime, and didn’t play the second half at all.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay has never been a fan of players taking a knee.
After he was cut by the Colts during the 2016 season, Cromartie never took the field again. And according to him, it’s all due to protesting social injustice and police brutality. However, it’s a decision he doesn’t regret.
“It ain’t have nothing to do with my age. It ain’t have nothing to do with my style of play. It was because I took a knee. October 2nd was my last game. I got one workout that whole entire time, and that was by the Saints in 2017,” said Cromartie.
“At the end of the day, all we did was give people a voice that didn’t have a voice. And it brought more attention to what really was going on and now everybody’s talking about it. But there’s still no solution because it’s still going on.”
Cromartie played 11 seasons in the NFL with the Chargers, Jets, Cardinals, and Colts. He made the Pro Bowl four times and was First-Team All-Pro in 2007 after leading the league in interceptions. For his career, he collected 416 tackles, deflected 116 passes, scored 6 touchdowns, and notched 31 interceptions.