Indianapolis Colts

McMullen: Antonio Cromartie is off base with Irsay criticism

Indianapolis Colts defensive back Antonio Cromartie (31) during the week 1 NFL game between the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)
(Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

There is a hard-and-fast rule for any trial lawyer, never ask a question you don’t know the answer to.

The meaning behind that thesis is rooted in common sense, uncertainty creates options that can turn in opposite directions and obviously can range from good to very bad.

Football teams adopt similar standards for the most part, especially when it comes to questionable officiating.

Take a couple of weeks ago in Detroit when the Eagles’ Ryan Mathews fumbled late in what turned out to be the turning point of the game. It looked as if the football came into contact with Philadelphia’s Jason Kelce while the center was lying partially out of bounds, something that should have made it a dead ball and kept possession with the Eagles.

On the field, the Lions recovered the football and that’s how the officials ruled. There was no indisputable video evidence to overturn the call and Detroit went on to win the football game.

Last week, the main complaint came from Falcons’ fans, who watched Julio Jones get mugged on a 4th down play late but the flags remained in the officials’ pockets despite the obvious nature of the call.

The point here, though, is that if Mathews doesn’t fumble in the Motor City and Jones doesn’t allow an earlier Matt Ryan pass to go through his hands, resulting in an interception that put Seattle on top, neither wronged team is in a position to allow forces they can’t control to make a mistake.

Which brings us to Antonio Cromartie, the now former Indianapolis Colts cornerback, who at least some believe was given his walking papers recently due to his social justice protest of kneeling during the National Anthem.

The thought was first broached by Cromartie’s wife, Terricka, who claimed the veteran cornerback was told to stop the controversial act.

“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,” she wrote on Instagram.

The ancillary smoke to that is that Colts owner Jim Irsay is on record saying that an NFL game is “the wrong venue” for such a protest.

“I think it’s the wrong venue,” Irsay told USA Today. “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.”

Cromartie himself obviously has a different take than Irsay, although he wouldn’t go so far to say that his protest is the reason he’s currently unemployed.

“They say it’s not the right place or venue to do what is right and stand for what is right,” Cromartie wrote on Instagram when discussing critics of his action. “I guarantee that most of the people that’s sending me hate messages don’t even know the top 2 members that are leading in this country in homelessness. Well let me educate you. #1 Veterans #2 Children. But you guys care so much about the people that fought for this country. It’s crazy while I was Indiana I had a chance to talk to some veterans that didn’t have a problem with me taking a knee. Because they understood my reason behind it. I thank them my grandfather and my friends for their support who also served this country.”

Here’s the part Cromartie doesn’t get, however.

Free speech doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to your actions and if the owner of your particular team decides what you are doing is harming his particular brand — he has every right to react to what you have done in order to protect it in how he sees fit. And a moral litmus test is not needed, as long as it’s done in a lawful fashion.

So even if you want to stipulate Irsay ordered his football people to release Cromartie for his protests (something that his very unlikely, by the way), the owner has every right to do that.

Furthermore, Irsay made his personal thoughts on the subject known to Cromartie and the rest of the Colts and if the cornerback wanted to eliminate any possibility of this happening in the fashion it did, he could have declined to create an environment where things were placed in the hands of someone who disagrees with the methods.

In other words, find a way to protest on your personal time when you are not representing the Colts.

In the end, though, this is just a classroom exercise because Cromartie was released due to his performance on the field and if the 32-year-old former Pro Bowl player was still playing at a high level, he would still be in Indianapolis.

-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.

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