Victor Cruz (American football)
Cruz at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.
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 2012
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.
Early years 
Cruz was born to an African American firefighter and Puerto Rican mother. His parents never married and his father committed suicide 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. 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.
College career 
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 149 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.
Professional career 
2010 season 
Cruz's big NFL game was a Monday night pre-season game against the New York Jets on August 16, 2010 when 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. Before he played his first game, Cruz had recently pulled his hamstring while practicing for the first game. Cruz played in five games at the start of the season, without recording a catch before a hamstring injury placed him on injured reserve for the remainder of the year.
2011 season 
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.
Giants franchise records 
- Most receiving yards in a single season: 1,536 (2011).
- Tied alltime longest passing TD 99 yards (12/26/11 vs Jets)
Career Statistics 
|2012||New York Giants||16||16||86||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|
Personal life 
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.
See also 
- "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.
- 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.
- "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.
- "Victor Cruz Comforts Family of Shooting Victim". New York Times. December 17, 2012.