Jim Irsay provided some statements to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, as part of a story on the declining TV ratings, that included his thoughts on the national anthem protests that involve kneeling.
“I think it’s the wrong venue. 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.”
Those statements prompted a response today from Miko Grimes, the outspoken wife of Brent Grimes:
“Cro” in this case is Antonio Cromartie, the 32-year-old cornerback who signed with the Indianapolis Colts in August, but was released on October 4th, just two days after Cromartie knelt during the national anthem while the Colts were playing the Jaguars in London.
Grimes, in her colorful tweet, claims that Irsay told Cromartie not to kneel again, and then fired him when he did, two days later.
That possibility was raised by Dave Zirin right after the release, but was generally dismissed or not pursued. Cromartie, after all, had been on the verge of retirement, had signed with the Colts late in the process when they had a need with Vontae Davis’ injury, and wasn’t playing particularly well (joining the rest of the defense, thanks to, according to the GM, how much he had to pay Luck.)
Irsay’s statements are not surprising from a business perspective. There is a cold truth to them. (Don’t piss off a portion of the paying customers; don’t be a distraction).
The Big Lead reached out to the Indianapolis Colts for their response to Grimes’ accusations. The Colts deny that the move was motivated by Cromartie kneeling during the national anthem in London, and referred to the statements of Coach Chuck Pagano at the time of release for a statement about Cromartie.
“Obviously everybody knows that we made some moves yesterday as far as the roster goes. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, every decision that we make as far as our roster goes and this team goes, is based on two things – what is best for this team and what gives us the best chance to win. We are grateful for the commitment and the contributions that Cro (Antonio Cromartie) and Sio (Moore) made to this organization. We wish them well moving forward. They were both good people, good human beings. They will land on their feet and they will be fine and we will be fine.”