Victor Cruz (American football)
No. 80 New York Giants
|Date of birth: November 11, 1986|
|Place of birth: Paterson, New Jersey|
|High school: Paterson (NJ) Catholic|
|Undrafted in 2010|
|Debuted in 2010 for the New York Giants|
|Roster status: Active|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2013
Victor Michael Cruz (born November 11, 1986) is an American football wide receiver for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Massachusetts. He was an undrafted free agent signed by the New York Giants in the 2010 offseason.
Cruz was born to an African American firefighter and Puerto Rican mother. His parents never married and his father was killed as a firefighter fighting a fire in 2007. Cruz attended Paterson Catholic High School in Paterson, New Jersey. He completed a post-graduate semester at Bridgton Academy in North Bridgton, Maine. At Paterson Catholic, Victor played wide receiver and defensive back for coach Benjie Wimberly, who he credits for his success. He earned All-State honors as a senior in 2003, when the team went undefeated at 11–0 and captured the New Jersey Parochial Group I championship. That season Victor caught 42 passes and scored 19 touchdowns—15 on receptions.
Cruz initially struggled to successfully combine his college studies with his football career, and was twice sent home from the University of Massachusetts for academic reasons. He only became eligible to play for the University of Massachusetts in 2007, but went on to have both a solid college football career and to graduate with a degree in African-American studies.
Cruz finished his career at University of Massachusetts with 131 catches ranking him fourth on the all-time UMass receptions list, despite the fact that he didn't start a game until his junior season. He scored 11 touchdowns in his career and had just under 2,000 receiving yards. Cruz was named a first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association wide receiver for the years 2008 and 2009. Victor was almost kicked out of the football team because of his grades.
2010 Boston's Pro Day
|Ht||Wt||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 0 in||206.0 lb||4.47 s||1.56 s||2.60 s||4.17 s||6.96 s||41.5 in||10 ft 5 in||16 reps|
|All values from Boston College's Pro Day.|
In a preseason game against the New York Jets on August 16, 2010, Cruz helped the Giants win 31-16 by catching 6 passes for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns. He would finish the preseason leading the NFL with 297 receiving yards, tied for the preseason lead with 4 touchdown catches, and was selected to the Giants' 53-man regular season roster. Cruz played in five games at the start of the season, before a hamstring injury placed him on injured reserve for the remainder of the year.
After the Giants lost Steve Smith to free agency, Cruz began the season as the team's fourth wide receiver, before injuries to both Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon led to him receiving a larger role in the Giants win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Cruz finished that game with 3 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns, the first and second of his career.
On October 2, with the Giants trailing 27-24 to the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter with under three minutes left to play, Cruz made a reception and went down without being touched at the Cardinals 29-yard line and released the ball as he got up. Wrongly believing that Cruz had fumbled since he was never touched, a Cardinal picked up the ball as if it was still alive. On the next play, Eli Manning threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks.
In a Week 5 36-25 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Cruz caught a one-handed 68-yard touchdown reception off a tipped pass. Later in the game, Cruz also lost a fumble, allowing Seattle to tie the game at 22 and with the Giants down 29-25 inside the 20, Cruz slipped on his route with the ball in the air and in an attempt to catch the ball, tipped it into the arms of Brandon Browner, who returned it 94 yards for the game clinching touchdown.
In Week 16, he tied the NFL record with a 99-yard touchdown catch against the New York Jets. His 89 yards after the catch on the play is the most by a receiver on a 99-yard reception. In the same game he also surpassed Amani Toomer as the record holder for the most single-season receiving yards by a Giant. Cruz was named a Pro Bowl alternate for the 2011 season.
In Week 17, in a do-or-die game against the Dallas Cowboys for the final playoff slot in the NFC, Cruz had 6 receptions for 178 yards, including the game's first score with a 74-yard touchdown catch, as well as a 4th-quarter, 44-yard catch on third and 7 that put the Giants in position to make a field goal that put the Giants up by two scores. The Giants added another touchdown, a 4-yard pass from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks, setting a record of 15 4th-quarter TD passes in one season for Eli Manning and beat the Cowboys 31-14. Cruz finished the season with a single season franchise record 1,536 receiving yards on 82 receptions and 9 touchdowns. Cruz was named a Second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press.
Against San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game, Cruz had 10 grabs for 142 yards—all in the first half—as the Giants edged the 49ers, 20-17, in overtime to advance to Super Bowl XLVI. The Giants then won the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots for another Super Bowl title.
Cruz has celebrated nearly every touchdown with a salsa dance. He stated that it was in honor of his deceased grandmother who taught him how to dance salsa and loved touchdown dances. The New York Daily News even had a dance instructor write about his technique. Cruz's touchdown dance led to him receiving an offer to appear on Dancing with the Stars, which he turned down.
On June 14, 2013, Cruz signed his one-year, $2.879 million restricted free agent tender. On July 8, 2013, Cruz signed a five year, $45.879 million total, contract extension. This makes the total a 6-year deal, including the free agent tender. Cruz suffered a heel bruise in August 18 preseason game. Unlike like Center David Baas's injury, Victor Cruz's heel bruise was deemed minimal in nature.
- Longest touchdown reception: 99 (2011 vs New York Jets) (tied with 12 others)
Giants franchise records
- Most receiving yards in a single season: 1,536 (2011)
- Tied all time longest receiving TD: 99 yards (12/24/11 vs. New York Jets)
|2012||New York Giants||16||16||2356||1,092||12.7||80T||10||0||0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|2011||New York Giants||16||7||82||1,536||18.7||99T||9||1||3||3.0||3||0||1||1|
|2010||New York Giants||3||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2011||New York Giants||4||4||21||269||12.8||36||1||0||0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
Cruz has a daughter, Kennedy, with his long-time girlfriend, Elaina Watley. In the summer of 2010, Cruz founded the "Young Whales" clothing line with former teammate Nate Collins. Cruz and former teammate Osi Umenyiora were among the brand's original models.
Following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, Cruz 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, which the Giants lost by a large margin, two days after the massacre. In permanent marker, one shoe read "R.I.P. Jack Pinto" and the other "Jack Pinto My Hero."  On December 19, 2012, he 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. He used to live in Paterson but he recently moved to North Caldwell. Now, December 2013, nearly one year to the day after that horrible tragedy, Victor Cruz again plans to honor Jack Pinto and all of those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. "I'm not sure what," Cruz says. "We'll see. But I do plan on doing something."
On January 15, 2013, Cruz collaborated with Foot Locker to create Cruzday Tuesday. Fans send pictures to Cruz's twitter and instagram (@TeamVic) of their shoes with #CruzdayTuesday and #Kickstagram attached. Cruz chooses one picture every Tuesday to be featured on Foot Locker's Photo of the Day on twitter and instagram. The winner also receives a Foot Locker gift card on top of the national recognition.
- "UMass - Victor Cruz bio". Retrieved 17 August 2010.
- Idec, Keith (25 April 2010). "Paterson's Victor Cruz gets a chance with the Giants". The Record. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
- Page Six Magazine, New York Post, March 8, 2012, p. 48.
- Idec, Keith. "Hackensack expected to name Benjie Wimberly", The Record (Bergen County), February 22, 2012. Accessed November 6, 2013.
- http://www.jockbio.com/Bios/V_Cruz/V_Cruz_bio.html. Missing or empty
- Chase, Chris (17 August 2010). "Video: Undrafted rookie steals MNF show with one-handed catch". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
- Victor Cruz Highlights - Preseason week 1
- A Victory for the Taking, Almost Left on the Ground
- victor Cruz Salsa New York Daily News January 2012
- Dyer, Kristian (Jan 8, 2012). "Victor Cruz won’t dance with the stars; it’s all for the Giants". Yahoo! Sports.
- Vacchiano, Ralph (June 14, 2013). "Victor Cruz signs his one-year, $2.879M tender with the NY giants, according to sources". New York Daily News.
- Rosenthal, Gregg (July 8, 2013). "Victor Cruz, New York Giants agree to $45.879M deal". NFL.com.
- "New York Giants’ Victor Cruz Suffers Heel Bruise; Tom Coughlin Expresses Concern".
- "Giants' Victor Cruz sees another highlight: becoming a new dad". NJ.com. January 11, 2012.
- "Victor Cruz Has Hot Clothing Line On His Hands". Yahoo Sports. February 1, 2012.
- "Some statement Week 15 wins, but playoff chase still a tangled mess". Sports Illustrated. December 17, 2012.
- Monkovic, Toni (December 17, 2012). "Victor Cruz Comforts Family of Shooting Victim". New York Times.
- "One Year After Tragedy, New York Giants WR Victor Cruz Again Plans to Honor Sandy Hook Victims".