Former NFL baller Antonio Cromartie knows why he no longer plays for the league, believing he was let go by the Colts because of his decision to take a knee last year.
While any player would be understandably shaken after facing such an ordeal, Cromartie has adjusted to life as a full-time dad amazingly well. Alongside wife Terricka, the two run a rambunctious household while raising six children together. The former New York Jet has 14 kids total, a fact that often overshadows the true character of the dedicated family man.
In their new USA series The Cromarties, Antonio and Terricka hope to show fans and haters alike what their life is really like. Here, the couple discuss children, co-parenting, the NFL and whether Antonio would return to the league if asked to never take a knee again.
EBONY: Did you always want such a big family?
Terricka: Well, I come from a big family and I always wanted a big family, but I didn’t anticipate my family would grow to be this big. I wouldn’t necessarily say we planned it, but at this point we’re enjoying it.
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Terricka, I know you’re used to the reality TV cameras from your time on E!’s Candy Girls, but what made you decide to invite the cameras into your home and get a more intimate look at your personal life?
Terricka: I think for me, our family has always been in the public eye. There’s this perception of our family that the media has portrayed, but it’s not a true account of who we are. I decided it would be a good idea to showcase us in true life, and that’s what made me want to pursue this opportunity. It gives us the opportunity to tell our own story.
Antonio: For me, this is the first time I’m really having cameras in my face every single day, showing our lifestyle. It really just shows us in a different light, and shows me as a man, as a father, as a husband, differently than the media has made me out to be at times.
How have the kids responded to be filmed every day? Are some more camera shy than others?
Terricka: Overall, the kids have reacted extremely well to the cameras. We knew Jagger, of course, would be Mr. Lovable, all up in the camera, but we were surprised at how they all became break-out stars during the filming process. It’s amazing watching their personalities shine.
What was your initial reaction when you found out you were pregnant after Antonio had a vasectomy?
Terricka: We were very surprised since we thought it was no longer a possibility. And not only was I pregnant, but I was pregnant with twins! So the shock grew from, “how am I pregnant at all?” to “we’re having not one, but two more babies?!”
We really didn’t know what to say, what to do or how to explain this to our kids. We held on to it for a while until we could process the fact that this happened and that, pretty soon, we were going to have two more kids in the house. We took a little time to let the reality sink in, and at the end of the day we were blessed with two beautiful babies, and we couldn’t have been happier.
Antonio, how do handle co-parenting with your other children’s mothers, especially with so many kids involved?
Antonio: Well, we both co-parent with them. We try to have open communication with them so that if they can’t reach me, they’re able to reach her. At the end of the day, it’s not about me, it’s not about them, it’s about the kids. We co-parent with some, and there are some that won’t cooperate with anything, so we just try to do the best that we can with all of them and keep it going from there.
Terricka: It’s nice, because the kids are at an age where they have their own phones and are able to call their dad whenever they want. Even Antonio and I have different views on parenting. Co-parenting is a process and we take it day-by-day.
EBONY: Antonio, how have you adjusted to life as a full-time dad after 11 years in the NFL?
Antonio: I think I’ve adjusted pretty well. During the off-season I’m home for 4-5 months, so I’m able to take the kids to school, pick them up from school, take them to different activities and everything. It was different during the season, when Terricka was really doing everything. Now I’m able to help and be more consistent. It isn’t too bad once you have game plan. Notice I said game plan because everything is a playbook in my head.
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Do you miss the game?
Antonio: I miss it, but I’m not done, you know? I’m not retired or anything, I just know my worth. Once it’s clear that the NFL isn’t considering your worth, then you get a better picture of what’s really important and what you should put your energy and time into.
As the first player on the Indianapolis Colts to take a knee last year, what were your thoughts when President Trump referred to your peers as “sons of b*tches” for doing so?
Antonio: There were nothing but Black players taking a knee. He basically called all the Black players SOBs, and not just football but basketball and even baseball now. Yet, he refused to call out the white supremacists who rioted and killed someone in Charlottesville, somehow they were “good people,” but these Black players are SOBs.
Taking a knee is a non-violent way to protest. The thing about much of White America is that they don’t take heed to African-Americans who protest peacefully. When we are peaceful, they try to turn it into something it isn’t to create a false uproar. It isn’t about disrespecting the flag or the military, it’s about police brutality and social injustice. Most of the guys who have taken a knee have military backgrounds, including family members who have served, so it’s nothing against our troops.
You were released from the Colts shortly after your decision to take a knee last year, with many believing that to be the reason you were let go. Considering this, and the fact that you have a large family to support, if you were offered a deal from a respected team that was financially fair, but required you agree NOT to take a knee, would you consider it?
Antonio: Honestly, no. There’s just too much going on in my community. Until White America can look through the eyes of a Black man, nothing will change. Even we as Black people sometimes don’t want to face what’s going on within our communities because some of us crossed over into a different tax bracket, but these issues affect the communities that raised us, so it affects us all.
The Cromarties airs Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. on USA.
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.