It was only a matter of time until the release of an NFL player was linked back to a national anthem protest. That’s exactly what happened to the Indianapolis Colts with Antonio Cromartie on Wednesday, as the cornerback’s wife Terricka claimed he lost his job for taking a knee a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Mrs. Cromartie has since removed the allegations she originally posted to Instagram, but not before Mike Wells for ESPN.com saw them and shared.
“You are Nothing More than an Entertainer. Just Shut and do what we say. You have No rights as along as you are working for me.. there are other places for you to fight and stand for what you believe,” the post said.
The post added: “One things for sure I know my husband was told Not to take a Knee and he went with his heart and he took one. And that cost him his Job.. and Clearly this Statement backs that up… Just a Paid To put on a show.”
For what it’s worth, Colts owner Jim Irsay has been critical of the protests before, saying the NFL is entertainment and “there are other places to express yourself.”
Then again, one doesn’t have to dig too deep to find such charges could be unfounded. For starters, Cromartie wasn’t cut after the first time he took a knee during the anthem. It wouldn’t be hard to make the case the 32-year-old no longer merited a roster spot, either. He wasn’t playing particularly well for the Colts prior to his release, and the fact that he wasn’t even on a roster until they came calling in late August speaks to how the 11th-year veteran is viewed around the league.
The Colts called the release a “football decision,” and while Irsay’s comments in public on the matter might give rise to conspiracies, the reality is Cromartie’s best days are likely behind him.