Former NFL cornerback Antonio Cromartie claims he’s been blackballed by the NFL for participating in his protest during the national anthem last season.
“I’m not going to say ‘part’ of the reason. That is THE reason,” Cromartie told Evan Grossman of the New York Daily News. “My play wasn’t part of it. I still feel that way after a whole entire year.”
Cromartie, who last played for the Indianapolis Colts, hasn’t been signed by an NFL team since being released last October. He had previously been benched by the Colts prior to his release, which he believes was the direct result of taking a knee during the national anthem, especially considering owner Jim Irsay’s comments in response to the protest.
“I think it’s the wrong venue,” Irsay said of protests last year. “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.”
The 33-year-old cornerback, whose family was recently the subject of the USA Network docu-series The Cromarties, is still optimistic that he’ll get an opportunity to play for an NFL team.
“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 road back to the NFL, as well as his well-documented family life, will be the main focus of his new show, which will at least provide him with some income while he’s out of the league.