Four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie believes that his decision to kneel during the national anthem is what led the Colts to release him in 2016.
Cromartie said on Bleacher Report’s Untold Stories that Colts coach Chuck Pagano told players not to kneel during the anthem and that Colts officials tried standing in front of him while he kneeled to block the corner from people’s sight.
Following the Colts’ Week 4 loss to the Jaguars—a game in which Cromartie believes he was benched as a response to kneeling—the defensive back was called into Pagano’s office and told he was getting released. The Colts head coach said the team was making the move because other defenders were getting healthy and Cromartie was no longer needed.
Cromartie believes, however, the decision was a result of his stand against police brutality and social injustice.
Cromartie first kneeled for the anthem during Week 3 against the Chargers after consulting with his family, which includes a U.S. Marine veteran. “We fought for you to serve that purpose, to go out and protest and have that freedom of speech,” his family members told him.
Cromartie never played in another game after getting cut from the Colts and attributed the abrupt end of his career to his decision to take a stand for something he believed in.
“I don’t regret it at all. Why should I?” Cromartie told Bleacher Report’s Master Testfatsion. “Only thing we did was give people a voice that didn’t have a voice. And it brought more attention to what really was going on."