From Aggravation to Admiration: The Victor Cruz Story

There are some players who simply have a way of having attention come their way without having to do too much. In the NFL, especially at the wide receiver position, we see players perform demonstrative exhibitions all the time. It’s almost as if it’s a prerequisite to the position:

A receiver has to be outwardly sure of himself and his abilities.

A receiver has to talk trash and let everyone know that there is not a defensive back who can stop him.

A receiver has to know how to celebrate after touchdowns, first downs, every catch, and it doesn’t matter whether their team is tied, ahead, or getting its ass whooped.

With the exception of a select few, this is the wide receiver position in the NFL and, early on, I put New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz in this category.

Simply put, I despised Victor Cruz. For starters, I had no idea who the man was, and I watch about as much football as any die-hard football fan out here. Secondly, the man would do the salsa when he scored which, early on, happened frequently, because he continued to find ways to get into the end zone.

As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I am genetically only allowed to like about *ponders deeply* about 4-5 players from a division rival. (It’s fan logic; if you’re not a fan, it will go over your head.) Justin Tuck, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, and Elite Manning were the only four Giants I gave a damn about and there was no room for a fifth.

Besides that, who did this dude think he was? In my mind, he’d only been in the League for 20 minutes, yet he’s carrying on in the end zone. My hatred continued and when the Giants would be losing or when Cruz had a crucial drop in a game, the fury would come in waves on Twitter, Facebook and any other social media tool, as well as around anyone who was watching the game with me. For the love of Christ, I hated that man with a passion.

However, it took Celia Kelly, a close friend and New York Giants fan, to turn the tide. She tried calming me down and telling me if I would just be receptive to his story, not only would the hatred stop, I’d probably end up becoming a fan of the young man.

Of course, it wasn’t easy as the aggravation and the taunts from other players on opposing teams fueled my hatred for the man who has arguably become the Giants go-to receiver.

Then, at the worst possible time, an interview took place on national television and it was right before the final game of the regular season that would decide the NFC East title between my Dallas Cowboys and her New York Giants.

As I watched the video, and waited to hear Celia curse me out and also say “I told you so,” there was no way, in good conscience, that hatred could be the dominant emotion when this man was on the Hoshitoshi playing the game anymore. The aggravation with Cruz became admiration as he explained that not only does he do the salsa in honor of his grandmother, he also absolutely refuses to do the dance after a touchdown when his team is losing.

For someone who’s seen their fair share of me-first players, this was a breath of fresh air. After that interview, there was a new-found respect and I vowed to never utter another negative word about Victor Cruz again.

Well, the first test of this new philosophy came in the first quarter against my Cowboys. Not only did Cruz catch a pass from Elite over the middle, he outran the Cowboys secondary all the way to the end zone, and not only did he do the salsa, NBC added a salsa song for effect…ON NATIONAL TELEVISION!!! When this happened, all I could do was laugh. Besides that, my fury was directed toward Terence Newman on the play anyway, but even if it was another corner that got beat, there was no way any anger would be directed toward Cruz.

All the young man does is play hard, catch passes and do everything possible to help his offense matriculate down the field. He does it with no harm intended for anyone, despite the fact that opposing players have mocked the man’s dance when they scored on more than one occasion. What’s lost in all of those incidents is that the Giants always won those games as well.

Victor Cruz is a breath of fresh air for the wide receiver position and a huge reason why the Giants are on the doorstep of another Vince Lombardi Trophy. If he does happen to make plays on the first Sunday in February and one of those catches happens to be a touchdown with the Giants having the lead, he’ll be on the biggest and brightest stage in the world to pay homage to his grandmother with the salsa, while everyone who mocked him from opposing teams sit at the house and watch. If it’s not too late for them to have a change of heart and opinion on the man, maybe they’ll even smile in admiration.

Be easy.

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