Victor Cruz (American football)

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Victor Cruz
refer to caption
Cruz in 2012
No. 80
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Born: (1986-11-11) November 11, 1986 (age 36)
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:204 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High school:Paterson Catholic
(Paterson, New Jersey)
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
NFL record
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:4,549
Receiving touchdowns:25
Player stats at · PFR

Victor Michael Cruz (born November 11, 1986) is a former American football wide receiver. He played college football at UMass, and signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2010. With the Giants, he won Super Bowl XLVI over the New England Patriots, and made the 2012 Pro Bowl.

Early years[edit]

Cruz was born in Paterson, New Jersey, on November 11, 1986 to Blanca Cruz and Michael Walker, a firefighter. His father was African American and his mother is Puerto Rican. Cruz's father died by suicide in 2007.[1]

Cruz attended Paterson Catholic High School in Paterson.[2] He completed a post-graduate semester at Bridgton Academy in North Bridgton, Maine. Cruz put up 47 catches for 869 yards and eight touchdowns in his single season at Bridgton Academy. At Paterson Catholic, Victor played wide receiver and defensive back for coach Andrew Slome, who he credits for his success.[3] 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, Cruz caught 42 passes and scored 19 touchdowns—15 on receptions.

College career[edit]

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 (UMass) in 2007, but went on to have both a solid college football career and to complete a BA in Afro-American Studies from UMass.[4][5]

Cruz finished his career at UMass 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.[2][6] 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[edit]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
5 ft 11+58 in
(1.82 m)
206 lb
(93 kg)
31 in
(0.79 m)
9.5 in
(0.24 m)
4.45 s 1.56 s 2.60 s 4.17 s 6.96 s 41.5 in
(1.05 m)
10 ft 5 in
(3.18 m)
16 reps
All values from Boston College's Pro Day.[7]

New York Giants[edit]

Cruz went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft and was signed the day after the draft by the New York Giants.

2010 season[edit]

In a preseason game against the New York Jets on August 16, 2010, Cruz helped the Giants win 31-16 by catching six passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns. He would finish the preseason leading the NFL with 297 receiving yards, tied for the preseason lead with four touchdown catches, and was selected to the Giants' 53-man regular season roster. He was praised and highlighted by critics for his performance throughout the preseason. He played in three games at the start of the season, before a hamstring injury placed him on injured reserve for the remainder of the year.

2011 season[edit]

After the Giants lost Steve Smith to free agency, Cruz began the season as the team's fourth wide receiver, before injury to Domenik Hixon led to him receiving a larger role in the Giants win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Against a heavily favored Eagles team Cruz made a huge impact. Most highlighted was a Cruz reception made between two defenders in which he took to the end zone for a touchdown. Cruz finished that game with 3 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns, the first and second of his career.

On October 2, 2011 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. Believing that Cruz had fumbled since he was never touched, a Cardinal picked up the ball as if it was still alive. The play was whistled dead, but further replay after the game showed Cruz did appear to fumble. On the next play, Eli Manning threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks.[8]

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. 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.[9]

In Week 16, he tied the NFL record with an explosive 99-yard touchdown catch against the New York Jets.[10] His 89 yards after the catch on the play is the most by a receiver on a 99-yard reception. This catch has constantly been highlighted as the turning point of the Giants 2011 season. In the same game, Cruz also surpassed Amani Toomer as the record holder for the most single-season receiving yards by a Giant.

In Week 17, in a do-or-die game against the Dallas Cowboys for the final playoff slot in the NFC, Cruz had six receptions for 178 yards, including the game's first score with a 74-yard touchdown catch, as well as a fourth quarter, 44-yard catch on third and seven 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 Manning to Hakeem Nicks, setting a record of 15 fourth quarter touchdown passes in one season for Manning and beat the Cowboys 31–14.[11] Cruz was praised for terrific route running and decimating the Cowboys defense. Cruz finished the season with a single season franchise record 1,536 receiving yards on 82 receptions and nine touchdowns. Cruz was named a Second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press.[12]

Against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship, Cruz had 10 catches for 142 yards—all in the first half—as the Giants edged the 49ers, 20–17, in overtime to advance to Super Bowl XLVI.[13] The Giants then advanced to winning the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots for another Super Bowl title.[14]

Cruz has been popularly known for celebrating nearly every touchdown with a salsa dance. He has stated that it was in honor of his deceased grandmother who taught him how to dance salsa and loved touchdown dances.[15] The New York Daily News even had a dance instructor write about his technique.[16] Cruz's touchdown dance led to him receiving an offer to appear on Dancing with the Stars, which he turned down.[17]

2013 season[edit]

On June 14, 2013, Cruz signed his one-year, $2.879 million restricted free agent tender.[18] On July 8, 2013, Cruz signed a five-year, $45.879 million total, contract extension. This made the total a six-year deal, including the free agent tender.[19] Cruz suffered a heel bruise in an August 18 preseason game. Unlike center David Baas's injury, Cruz's heel bruise was deemed minimal in nature.[20]

2014 season[edit]

On October 12, 2014, against the Philadelphia Eagles, Cruz suffered a torn patellar tendon, prematurely ending his 2014 season.[21] In six games of 2014, Cruz produced 337 receiving yards and a touchdown.[22]

2015 season[edit]

After a long rehab, Cruz gave an update informing the media he was not yet fully recovered but mostly there. Cruz returned to training camp in the summer of 2015, but unfortunately aggravated his calf. The aggravation of his calf further delayed his comeback. From Week 5, Cruz's return was pushed to play in Week 10 against the Patriots, but it was later announced that Cruz would undergo surgery on his left calf, and would miss the entire 2015 season.[23][24] On November 17, 2015, he was placed on season-ending injured reserve.[25]

2016 season[edit]

After two years of rehab, Cruz returned to NFL play on September 11, 2016, in the Giants opener against Dallas. That afternoon, he scored a game-winning touchdown and celebrated with a salsa dance, his first in 2 years.[26] Victor Cruz would follow up his performance against the New Orleans Saints with a game winning catch in the final minutes of the game. The Giants went on to win the game by a score of 16–13. On September 17, Cruz was fined $12,154 for excessive celebration related to dancing in the endzone with fellow wideout Odell Beckham Jr., who was also fined for the same reason.[27]

Cruz had 3 receptions for 30 yards in the Giants 38–13 Wild Card loss to the Green Bay Packers.

On February 13, 2017, Cruz was released by the Giants.[28][29]

Chicago Bears[edit]

On May 25, 2017, Cruz signed a one–year deal with the Chicago Bears.[30] On September 2, 2017, Cruz was released by the Bears.[31]

In 2017, the New York Giants suffered many injuries at the wide receiver position, and there was speculations that the Giants and Cruz would reunite. However, the deal ended up falling through, and Cruz remained a free agent during the 2017 season.


On August 21, 2018, Cruz announced his retirement and joined ESPN as an analyst.[32] He signed a one-day contract with the New York Giants to officially retire with the team.[33] Cruz hosted the first season of MTV’s The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros.

NFL career statistics[edit]

Won the Super Bowl
Bold Career high

Regular season[edit]

Year Team Games Receiving Rushing Fumbles
GP GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD Fum Lost
2010 NYG 3 0
2011 NYG 16 7 82 1,536 18.7 99T 9 1 3 3.0 3 0 1 1
2012 NYG 16 16 86 1,092 12.7 80T 10 0 0
2013 NYG 14 13 73 998 13.7 70T 4 1 1
2014 NYG 6 6 23 337 14.7 61 1 0 0
2015 NYG 0 0 Did not play due to injury
2016 NYG 15 12 39 586 15.0 48 1 1 1
Career 70 54 303 4,549 15.0 99 25 1 3 3.0 3 0 3 3


Season Team Games Receiving Rushing Fumbles
GP GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD Fum Lost
2011 NYG 4 4 21 269 12.8 36 1 0 0
2016 NYG 1 1 3 30 10.0 17 0 0 0
Career 5 5 24 299 12.5 36 1 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0

Personal life[edit]

Cruz has a daughter, Kennedy, with Elaina Watley. He was in a relationship with actress Karrueche Tran[34] from November 2017 through January 2021. 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.[35]

Cruz's college roommate was then-UMass quarterback and current Rams offensive coordinator, Liam Coen, whom Cruz credits as one of the first to recognize his talents as a wide receiver.[36]

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 two days after the massacre. In permanent marker, one shoe read "R.I.P. Jack Pinto" and the other "Jack Pinto My Hero."[37][38] 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.[39]


  1. ^ Barker, Barbara (February 1, 2012). "Cruz will never forget his late father". Newsday. Archived from the original on September 26, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Idec, Keith (April 25, 2010). "Paterson's Victor Cruz gets a chance with the Giants". The Record. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  3. ^ Idec, Keith. "Hackensack expected to name Benjie Wimberly", The Record (Bergen County), February 22, 2012. Accessed November 6, 2013.
  4. ^ "UMass receiver Victor Cruz now runs the right patterns academically, just as well as on the field". Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  5. ^ "Super Bowl 2012: The evolution of New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz". National Post. February 4, 2012. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  6. ^ Chase, Chris (August 17, 2010). "Video: Undrafted rookie steals MNF show with one-handed catch". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  7. ^ "Victor Cruz - Massachusetts, WR : 2010 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile". Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  8. ^ "New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals - October 2nd, 2011". Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants - October 9th, 2011". Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  10. ^ "New York Giants at New York Jets - December 24th, 2011". Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  11. ^ "Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants - January 1st, 2012". Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  12. ^ "". Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  13. ^ "NFC Championship - New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers - January 22nd, 2012". Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  14. ^ "Super Bowl XLVI - New York Giants vs. New England Patriots - February 5th, 2012". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  15. ^ "Victor Cruz of New York Giants says salsa dance imitation would be an insult - ESPN New York". Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  16. ^ victor Cruz Salsa New York Daily News January 2012
  17. ^ Dyer, Kristian (January 8, 2012). "Victor Cruz won't dance with the stars; it's all for the Giants". Yahoo! Sports.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Rosenthal, Gregg (July 8, 2013). "Victor Cruz, New York Giants strike $45.879M contract".
  20. ^ "New York Giants' Victor Cruz Suffers Heel Bruise; Tom Coughlin Expresses Concern". Archived from the original on August 23, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  21. ^ Samuel, Ebenezer (October 12, 2014). "NY Giants WR Victor Cruz can recover from knee injury, but will likely never be the same, doctor says". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  22. ^ "Victor Cruz 2014 Game Log". Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  23. ^ "Victor Cruz to have season-ending surgery on calf". ESPN. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  24. ^ "Victor Cruz done for the year — and with the Giants?". New York Post. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  25. ^ Eisen, Michael (November 17, 2015). "Giants sign WR Hakeem Nicks". Archived from the original on December 20, 2015. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  26. ^ "Giants' Victor Cruz serves as star in his first game in 700 days". September 11, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  27. ^ Smith, Michael. "NFL fines Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham for TD dance". Pro Football Talk. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  28. ^ Orr, Conor (February 13, 2017). "New York Giants release wide receiver Victor Cruz".
  29. ^ Eisen, Michael (February 13, 2017). "Giants part ways with WR Victor Cruz, RB Rashad Jennings".
  30. ^ Larry, Mayer (May 25, 2017). "Bears agree to terms with Victor Cruz".
  31. ^ Sessler, Marc (September 1, 2017). "Victor Cruz released by Chicago Bears". Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  32. ^ "Victor Cruz retires from NFL, joining ESPN as analyst". August 21, 2018. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  33. ^ Henry, Tyler (August 28, 2018). "Victor Cruz intends to sign a one-day contract, retire a Giant". Giants Wire. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  34. ^ "Is Victor Cruz Planning to Propose to Girlfriend Karrueche Tran? He Says …". Us Weekly. April 20, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  35. ^ "Victor Cruz Has Hot Clothing Line On His Hands". Yahoo Sports. February 1, 2012.
  36. ^ "Next Joe Brady? Kentucky believes it found its man in new coordinator Liam Coen". The Athletic. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  37. ^ "Some statement Week 15 wins, but playoff chase still a tangled mess". Sports Illustrated. December 17, 2012.
  38. ^ Monkovic, Toni (December 17, 2012). "Victor Cruz Comforts Family of Shooting Victim". New York Times.
  39. ^ "Victor Cruz recounts meeting Pintos". Retrieved October 13, 2014.

External links[edit]