Who is Victor Cruz? That’s a question I’ve been asking since August of 2010. I’m probably not alone. If you watched the preseason game between the Giants and the Jets that year, it would have been hard not to notice the rookie wide receiver who stole the show.
After the game, I called my dad. We always talk before, during and after each game, and I asked him, “Have you ever heard of Victor Cruz?” He responded, “No, but that kid is going to be big.”
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A year later, Victor Cruz would go from virtual unknown to Super Bowl Champion. It’s an inspiring story of success, which Victor shares in his new book Out of the Blue, but unlike the title suggests, his success did not happen overnight. Does it ever?
Victor’s story is one of hard work, determination and perseverance. He gives the reader a detailed look into his childhood, his family life, and his first moments on the football field. He takes you through all the hurdles he faced and mistakes he made in his high school and college years, and what actions he took to turn around his life and his career.
It is not an unfamiliar story, but what makes it unique is Victor’s voice. It is refreshingly honest. He doesn’t shy away from the truth. He doesn’t sugar coat it. He is quick to point out when his behavior was less than stellar. He also gives credit where it is due, recognizing the many sacrifices and contributions made by his family and teammates. Also, unlike other wide receivers we know, he is unwavering in his support for his quarterback, Eli Manning.
Victor is not perfect. He grew up a Cowboys fan, but he was wise to recognize and capitalize on the chance to play professional football for his hometown team. He wrote, “if [the Giants] had even the slightest bit of interest in drafting me, I had no problem cleaning out my closet full of Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin Cowboys jerseys and replacing them with Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor memorabilia.” Smart man. He has fully embraced what it means to be a Giant. He bleeds blue but he certainly didn’t come “out of the blue.”
When Victor first burst onto the scene, all I knew about him was that he was an undrafted rookie free agent who played at UMass Amherst. I did not know what it took for Victor to get there. His father taught him, “Nothing’s ever going to be handed to you,” and Cruz was aware he’d have to earn and make the most of every opportunity. Like the Giants in 2011, Victor never gave up, and that is the reason why he is where he is today.
I would recommend Out of the Blue to any fan of the game. It is a fun, fast summer read that will make you laugh and cry. For Giants fans, it is also a great way to relive our incredible run to the Super Bowl with all its ups and downs and twists and turns.
For me personally, I was finally able to answer the question, “Who is Victor Cruz?” I have a better understanding of the man behind the salsa dancing, which gives me a better idea of what kind of player he will be. His father told him, “You should play football, Vic. You’re pretty good.” My father said, “This kid is going to be big.” In my opinion, he’s only getting started.