How a New Jersey athlete became the ‘People’s Giant’
Victor Cruz may have played his last game for the Giants at MetLife stadium and I'm glad my 10-year-old-boys got to see it.
In fact, not only did they get to see Cruz make a 29-yard catch down the sideline against the Detroit Lions and sort of salsa dance on a touchdown that was negated, but they got to appreciate what a great Giant he is. Victor Cruz to me is the "People's Giant."
Cruz came out of nowhere from Patterson by way of U Mass as a walk-on, catching six passes and three touchdowns against the New York Jets in a pre-season game in 2010. This is the same Jets team he would help beat with a 99-yard touchdown reception that would help propel the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2011. He would score a touchdown in that game as well. There were many games during which Cruz would do his salsa dances in the end zone as a tribute to his grandmother.
Cruz also showed his heart following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. He honored one of the victims, Jack Pinto, age 6. Pinto was a fan of Cruz, who wore a tribute on his shoes in the game against the Atlanta Falcons two days after the massacre. In permanent marker, one shoe read "R.I.P. Jack Pinto" and the other "Jack Pinto My Hero."
On Dec. 19, 2012, Cruz visited the Pinto family in Newtown, saying, "I felt like it was only right that I pay my respects to him and be as comforting to that family as much as I can." Cruz gave the cleats and gloves he wore in the Falcons' game to Pinto's brother, Ben.
I also remember when it all came crashing down for Cruz as he went up for what would have been a touchdown in Philadelphia and came down with a torn patella tendon. I remember seeing the tears coming down his face as they carried him off the field and thinking it's not fair that it should end this way for such a great guy. Thanks to Cruz putting in a lot of hard work, it didn't. He spent two years rehabbing and finally got back on the field this year.
Although his contributions may not have been as plentiful, it was more quality instead of quantity. Cruz scored an opening day touchdown against Dallas, his fourth quarter reception against New Orleans helped secure that win.
There's a lot to work out between money and desire on both sides to determine whether Victor Cruz will be a Giant next year. I'm hoping he's back. Cruz is a perfect example of living your dream and overcoming adversity when it looks like it's going to be lost.