Colin Kaepernick isn’t the only player who thinks he’s been excommunicated from the NFL for protesting. Former Jet Antonio Cromartie said he, too, is unemployed because he took a knee during the national anthem last year.
“I’m not going to say ‘part’ of the reason. That is THE reason,” Cromartie told the Daily News. “My play wasn’t part of it. I still feel that way after a whole entire year.”
Cromartie played for the Jets from 2010-2013 during the Rex Ryan era and returned for one more season in 2015. Last year, he played in four games for the Colts before he was released in early October.
His wife Terricka has said Cromartie, the first Colts player to demonstrate during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was fired because he took a knee.
Cromartie did struggle and was benched before he was released Oct. 4, 2016. Two weeks after he was cut, Colts owner Jim Irsay was quoted saying football stadiums are not the place for political protest.
“I think it’s the wrong venue,” Irsay told USA TODAY Sports. “It hasn’t been a positive thing. What we all have to be aware of as players, owners, PR people, equipment managers, is when the lights go on we are entertainment. We are being paid to put on a show. There are other places to express yourself.”
Terricka Cromartie posted, then deleted, a volcanic Instagram post in response to Irsay’s comment on the heels of her husband’s release.
“I know my husband was told Not to take a Knee and he went with his heart and he took one,” she wrote. “And that cost him his Job and Clearly this Statement backs that up.”
Kaepernick is suing the NFL for collusion, but Cromartie, set to star in a new reality show, is still hoping a team comes calling.
“If I get the opportunity, I would love to play. But if not, then I’m satisfied with my career,” he said. “Being at home, being a father, being a husband, there’s nothing better than that.”
Cromartie’s unemployment and his life around the house makes up much of “The Cromarties,” a new reality show that premieres Thursday (10:30 p.m., USA Network). Part of why the Cromarties wanted to do the show, Terricka said, is to change the perception out there about her fertile husband.
“A lot of people know that Antonio has fathered so many children,” she said. “But nobody knows Antonio, the father. I think our series is going to give the world the opportunity to meet Antonio in his role as a dad. They know the player, they know he has children, but I think our show shows Antonio in a different light.”
Indeed, Antonio Cromartie is best known for fathering 14 children. When he and the Jets appeared on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” he had trouble remembering all of their names. And despite getting a vasectomy in 2013, Cromartie has fathered three more children, bringing his total with Terricka to six little ones.
“It just reversed on its own. They tell you beforehand it’s not 100 percent,” he said of his failed procedure. “It’s like every other form of birth control; it’s not guaranteed.”
According to the Male Health Center, one of every 2,000 vasectomies doesn’t take.
So now Cromartie, a veteran of 11 NFL seasons, is adjusting to his new life as a stay-at-home-dad. He’s changing diapers, coaching Little League, running the kids to activities and doing regular-dad stuff. Cromartie’s OCD, or as he calls it, “Cro-CD,” also figures to have a big role on the show.
“I think people are going to see a father that loves his kids, is very present, a father that has OCD and cleans and cooks and has to have his house in order,” Terricka said. “But a father that is also fun and loving and is a great husband.”
After all that headbanging, all that football, Cromartie said he wouldn’t mind if his kids stayed away from the game because of the injuries. Cromartie was diagnosed with a concussion in 2013 when he was with the Jets.
“If they wanted to, I would support them,” he said. “But I’m not going to force them to go play or have them try football out. If that’s not something they want to do, I’m not going to push them into doing it.”
For now, Cromartie will settle for chasing them around the house, cleaning up the many messes kids make, and half-heartedly waiting for the NFL to come calling again.
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