Antonio Cromartie: Kneeling Got Me Cut, Ended My NFL Career | Untold Stories
November 7, 2019
– Do you think it ended your career? – 100 percent. 100 percent. And it ain’t have nothin’ to do with my age, it ain’t have nothin’ to do with my style of play: It was because I took a knee. ♪♪♪ What’s happenin’, man? – Antonio Cromartie! – What’s good witcha? – How you doin’, man? – Man, I can’t call it. – Since you in my crib, I’mma be an honest guest and go ahead—a generous guest— – Yo crib? – Whatever, you can go ahead and rack for me real quick. – Oh. – Some chalk, you need some? – I don’t even need no chalk. – Oh, you don’t need no chalk? – Nah, man. – Gonna chalk it up. – For what? For you to get beat anyway? – Go ahead, bro. Talkin’ all that noise. – Yeahhh, buddy. – Everybody’ll talk noise, but— – Yep, we talk a lil’ noise. That’s what us Florida boys do. – In 2016, you’re with the Colts. That’s the same year Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality and social injustice. You took a knee—explain to me how that season played out for you. – I could give you a story: We are in a team meeting room, and…Coach Pagano gets up and says, “Look, guys. I know you guys all wanna do somethin’. I don’t want you guys takin’ a knee.” Like, “What? Don’t take a knee?” Like, “Whatchu mean, not take a knee?” He’s like, “Well, guys, look. When we go out on the football field, it’s about football.” – Mmm. – I say, “So, but—” And I turned around to some of the guys and I, and I spoke to ‘em. I’m just 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,” you know what I’m sayin’? And I told Chuck Pagano that. You know, I’m just like, “Man, that’s, that’s—” I told him straight up, “That’s bullshit.” You know, it’s, it’s, ”Oh, you know, football is bigger than, bigger than what’s goin’ on the outside.” No, it ain’t. How about respecting the guys that’s gettin’ murdered and killed by police officers? And not sayin’ that all police officers are bad. But you get some, they get that—they get a lil’ power in their hand, and they abuse the power. I have six sons. You know what I’m sayin’? Like, what if my son was in the car? Or what if my son was walkin’ around? And he get, and he get shot? Over nothin’? So, that was my logic. That was my thinkin’ into it. Not because, “Oh, you know, it’s, it’s the NFL.” – Take me through the day when you took a knee. Who were you playing, what week was it? – Week 3, Week 4 is when I took a knee. Cuz I actually wanted a little more detail. I wanted to ask my grandfather about it, who served in the Marines. Uh, talked to some family members that actually was, you know, that was part—that was in the Army, and do they feel— did they feel, like, in it, was there any disrespect, you know? And the biggest thing that came out was like, “No. We don’t agree with it, but our thing is, that’s what we, that’s what we fought for.” – Yeah. – You know what I’m sayin’? “We fought for you to, to serve that purpose, to go out and protest and have that freedom of speech and everything else.” So Week 3, we playin’ the San Diego Chargers. I can remember me right before the national anthem, first time I took a knee. And what’s funny is, two or three of the executive guys were standing behind me, and they was like, “Cro, get up!” I was like, “Man, fuck y’all! I’m not gettin’ up!” – Wow, they told you that? – Yeah, they said, “Get up.” What they end up doin’ was, one guy was standing here, one guy was standing here, one guy was standing here, and another guy was standing here. One person even had a towel to try to block it, you know, for nobody wantin’ to take a picture, but they already had took a picture. – And then, Week 4, we are in London. So we’re playin’ in London. – Mhmm. – And they came up to me before the game and was like, “Hey, Cro, please don’t take a knee.” It’s like, “Man, y’all better get out my face.” You know, y’all not fittin’ to sit here and tell me what I can and cannot do. I got, actually got benched that game. I got pulled out, halftime, and didn’t play the second half at all. – Why was that? – They say it was cuz of my play, but I was like, “You gave up four, four—” I said, “You give up four catches for 35 yards and a one-yard touchdown off a turnover that your quarterback threw?” C’mon, man. Two days after I took a knee I get like three or four phone calls. I’m like, “Hey, who the hell these people that’s callin’ my phone?” I don’t recognize the number, so I ended up answering the phone. It was like, “Hey, yo, you in the facility?” I was like, “Yeah, why? What’s up?” “Oh, uh, Chuck Pagano wanna see you.” I was like, “All right, cool.” So they come to get me. It was like, “Uh, you got your playbook?” You know, I looked up like, “What?! Do I got my playbook?” – Wow. – “Yeah, I got my playbook. Why?” Now it’s like, “All right, cool. Lemme go talk to Chuck.” So we get in there, and he goes into this whole spiel: “Uh, you know—hey, you know, we’re releasing you because our guys are gettin’ healthy.” I’m like, “Dude, ain’t nobody healthy in the back end at all.” It’s like, “Man, you ain’t gotta lie to me. Just tell me the truth.” Only thing—only reason I wanted him to say really what he would’ve said, but he wouldn’t say it. I was like, so, I was like, “So, wow, I’m gettin’ released for takin’ a knee?” He’s like, “Nah, you know, it’s not that.” – Mmm. – “You know, you just—you know, we just feel like we gettin’ healthy.” – Yeah. – I said, “Man, y’all ain’t finna sit here and just pay me three million damn dollars to now to release me and then talkin’ about y’all just gettin’ healthy.” I said, “That don’t even make sense, Chuck.” I said, “But it’s cool.” [Laughing] I said, yo, I said, “You boutta get fired anyway.” Straight like that. – How’d he respond to that? – He ain’t say nothin’. He ain’t say nothin’. And guess what, guess what end up happenin’? – What happened? – He got fired. Him and the damn GM. – How you think your decision to take a knee affected your career? – Oh, it affected it big-time. It ain’t have nothin’ to do with my age, it ain’t have nothin’ 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. – Do you regret that decision at all? – Nope. Don’t regret it at all. Nah, don’t—why, why should I? Cuz at the end of the day, only thing we did was give people a voice that didn’t have a voice. And it brought more attention to what really was goin’ on, and now everyone’s talkin’ about it. But there’s still no solution because it’s still goin’ on. What’s crazy about that is, we got death threats. Death threats really don’t matter to me. [Laughing] It was, like, but—it’s just, like, you know, you get guys that say they’re about somethin’ and they wanna stand for somethin’. But they won’t do nothin’. The NFL is 75 percent black. If all black players walked off the field one day, what they gonna have? You know what I’m sayin’? How much money will they lose if you stand together? Thanks for kickin’ it with us. Subscribe to B/R to check out more dope videos like this one.