Antonio Cromartie: Protesting 'is the reason' I'm unemployed

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.

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Antonio Cromartie through his career
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Antonio Cromartie through his career
SAN DIEGO - JULY 31: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie #25 of the San Diego Chargers practices during Training Camp on July 31, 2006 at Charger Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 1: Antonio Cromartie #25 of the San Diego Chargers defends against the Baltimore Ravens on October 1, 2006 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens won 16-13. (Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)
San Diego Chargers rookie corneback Antonio Cromartie during warmups before game against the Arizona Cardinals at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif. on Sunday, December 31, 2006. (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 04: Antonio Cromartie #31 of the San Diego Chargers begins to celebrate as he goes 109 yards on a failed field goal attempt by Ryan Longwell of the Minnesota Vikings for a touchdown to end the first half and give the Chargers a 14-7 lead at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on November 4, 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 06: Antonio Cromartie #31 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates after a defensive play during their AFC Wild Card Playoff Game against the Tennessee Titans at Qualcomm Stadium on January 6, 2008 in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Titans 17-6. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
PHOENIX - JANUARY 31: Defensive back Antonio Cromartie of the San Diego Chargers speaks during the GMC Defensive Player of the Year award news conference prior to Super Bowl XLII at the Phoenix Convention Center on January 31, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona. The award was given to Bob Sanders of the Indianapolis Colts. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
San Diego Chargers CB Antonio Cromartie - May 12, 2008. Escape Artist - The amazing story behind Antonio Cromartie, every NFL quarterback's worst nightmare (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16: (L-R) NFL player Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie at the 2008 ESPY Awards after party held at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on July 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The 2008 ESPYs will air on Sunday, July 20 at 9PM ET on ESPN. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 14: Antonio Cromartie #31 of the San Diego Chargers looks on against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 14, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. Denver won 39-38. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 22: Antonio Cromartie #31 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates with teammates after he returns a 52-yard interception for a touchdown in the second quarter while taking on the New York Jets on September 22, 2008 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LONDON - OCTOBER 26: Antonio Cromartie of San Diego Chargers looks on during the Bridgestone International Series NFL match between San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium on October 26, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
FLORHAM PARK, NJ - CIRCA 2010: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Antonio Cromartie of the New York Jets poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Florham Park, New Jersey. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 16: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets leads the Defensive Backs in a moment of reflection before the game against the New York Giants when the New York Jets host the New York Giants in the first preseason football game at New Meadowlands Stadium on August 16, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Giants beat the Jets, 31-16. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 19: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie #31of the New York Jets smiles as he looks on from the field before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 19, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Jets defeated the Steelers 22-17. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
FLORHAM PARK, NJ - AUGUST 07: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie #31 and Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets speak during Training Camp at NY Jets Practice Facility on August 7, 2011 in Florham Park, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets follows the action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01: Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets looks on during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01: Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets looks on during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 18: NFL player Antonio Cromartie (R) and guests arrive at the 2012 Cartoon Network Hall of Game Awards at Barker Hangar on February 18, 2012 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/WireImage) 22184_002_JS2_0494.JPG
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 08: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets in action against Johnathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium on October 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Texans defeated the Jets 23-17. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 27: NFL player Antonio Cromartie (tattoo detail) arrives at the 'Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain' premiere at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 20: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets is introduced against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium on October 20, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 15: Football player Antonio Cromartie attends the GBK Luxury Sports Lounge, prior to the ESPY Awards held at W Hollywood on July 15, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for GBK Productions)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 05: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie #31 of the Arizona Cardinals takes the field prior to facing the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 5, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Cardinals 41-20. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 02: Antonio Cromartie #31 of the Arizona Cardinals returns a interception in the fourth quarter during a game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 2, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 28-17. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - JANUARY 30: NFL players Antonio Cromartie (L) and Colin Kaepernick attend ESPN the Party at WestWorld of Scottsdale on January 30, 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for ESPN)
FLORHAM PARK, NJ - JUNE 16: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets appears in a portrait on June 16, 2015 in Florham Park, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images for New York Jets)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 21: Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets looks on against the Indianapolis Colts during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 21, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Jets defeated the Colts 20-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
August 27, 2016: Indianapolis Colts cornerback Antonio Cromartie (34) during the NFL preseason week 3 game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Football player Antonio Cromartie (L) and Terricka Cromartie watch the runway show during BKLYN Rocks presented by City Point, Kids Foot Locker, and Haddad Brands at City Point on November 9, 2016 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for City Point)
CROMARTIES -- Pictured: (l-r) Antonio Cromartie, Jagger Cromartie -- (Photo by: Zach Dilgard/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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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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