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Former Cardinals CB Antonio Cromartie retires from NFL

Arizona Cardinals' Antonio Cromartie (31) returns an interception against the Carolina Panthers in the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Former Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie announced Monday that he was retiring from the NFL after 11 seasons.

“Today is the day I️ knew I️ would eventually have to face, but one I never wanted to accept,” he wrote on Instagram. “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.”

Cromartie spent his first four NFL seasons (2006-09) with the San Diego Chargers, the last of which he played under newly-hired Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks, who coached defensive backs.

From 2010-13, Cromartie played for the New York Jets before spending 2014 with Arizona.

That year, the Cardinals went 11-5 in the regular season and lost to the Carolina Panthers, 27-16, in the NFC Wild Card Game. Cromartie recorded 43 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defensed during the regular season before picking off a pass and defending two more in the playoff loss.

“To my ‘Bird Gang Family,’ The Arizona Cardinals and the (Bidwill) Family; although my time with you was short, I️ enjoyed my year there and I loved the opportunity you gave me,” Cromartie wrote on Instagram. “It was an honor to play for such a great organization.”

After leaving Arizona, Cromartie returned to the Jets for the 2015 season and in 2016 played for the Indianapolis Colts.

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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