4-Time Pro Bowler Reflects On Time In New York: 'My Family And I Will Forever Bleed Green'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday.

The 11-year pro with four franchises posted a message on Instagram saying “after 27 years of playing football, today I say farewell.”

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Today is the day I️ knew I️ would eventually have to face, but one I never wanted to accept. After 27 years of playing football, today I say farewell. God blessed me with the opportunity to play in the NFL for 11 years, and after much consideration and prayer, I’d like to officially announce my retirement. Throughout my career so many people have helped strengthen and guide me. I’d love to send my sincere thanks to my Coaching Staff, Trainers, Chaplains and Fellow Teammates. To my agents Gary Wichard (Rest Easy G), and Ben Dorga, thank you for not only guiding me throughout my career, but also for making me feel like family and not a client. To The San Diego Chargers and the Spanos Family, thank you for believing in me. Thank you for taking a chance on a young kid from Tallahassee, Florida who did not play much in college. You believed in my ability and my potential to play at a professional level, and I️ will forever be grateful. To all the Charger Fans; thank you for your love, your support and never giving up on me throughout my career. To my "Bird Gang Family, “The Arizona Cardinals” and the Bidwell Family; although my time with you was short, I️ enjoyed my year there and I loved the opportunity you gave me. It was an honor to play for such a great organization. To my J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS, The Best NFL Team in New York, The Jets Organization. You became my home and my family. I grew as a player, a man, and as a leader. The brotherhood I️ built here was undeniable. My heart will forever embrace the feeling of running through the tunnel and out onto the field with my brothers. My family and I will forever Bleed Green. JETUP, JET NATION. To my lovely wife Terricka, thank you for your support through the ups and downs of my career. You were always there to encourage me, and push me. Because of you I became a better player, and a man. I thank God, for a praying wife for I know it was your prayers that sustained me, and protected me while I was on the field. As we take on this next chapter of our lives, I will hold onto your words.. “Football is your Platform Antonio; It’s Not Your Purpose”. The Time has Come for me to Focus on my Purpose. God Bless

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An All-Pro with San Diego in 2007, when he led the league with 10 interceptions, Cromartie was one of the NFL’s best cover cornerbacks for much of his career, making four Pro Bowls. He also scored the longest touchdown in league history, returning a missed field goal by Minnesota for a 109-yard score in 2007.

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Cromartie, 33, spent his first four seasons with the Chargers, making the playoffs each year. He then joined the Jets and made the AFC championship game with them in 2010, his first of four straight seasons as a starter in Rex Ryan’s defense.

He spent 2014 with Arizona, returned to the Jets in 2015, and finished his career in 2016 with Indianapolis.

antonio cromartie big dl Longtime Jets Cornerback Cromartie Flies Off Into Retirement

Antonio Cromartie (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Cromartie’s ball skills, size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and speed made him a desirable commodity even though he was an inconsistent tackler and often gambled in coverage. The Chargers selected him 19th overall in the 2006 draft.

“To The San Diego Chargers and the Spanos Family, thank you for believing in me,” Cromartie wrote. “Thank you for taking a chance on a young kid from Tallahassee, Florida who did not play much in college. You believed in my ability and my potential to play at a professional level, and I will forever be grateful.”

With the Jets in 2010, he combined with Darrelle Revis to form one of football’s best cornerback tandems.

“I grew as a player, a man, and as a leader,” he wrote of his time in New York. “The brotherhood I built here was undeniable. My heart will forever embrace the feeling of running through the tunnel and out onto the field with my brothers. My family and I will forever Bleed Green.”

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)