Victor Cruz is calling it a career in the NFL.
The former New York Giants star and fan-favorite, who salsa danced his way into the league when no one gave him much of a chance, officially called it quits Tuesday by announcing his retirement on social media.
Few thought that Cruz would make it this far. The tough kid who was made on the equally tough streets of Paterson, NJ didn’t seem a likely candidate for the NFL. The story of Cruz, from being a high school standout who was lightly recruited to a year in prep school in Maine at Bridgton Academy, then to UMass where he almost failed out of school twice, then as an undrafted rookie free agent – simply is the stuff of a hard-working and relentless individual.
In 2010, Cruz burst onto the scene in a preseason game against the New York Jets but ended up getting injured early in the season and missed the rest of the year, failing to register a catch. The next season, he had 82 catches for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns, helping pace the Giants to a Super Bowl title.
And though he hasn’t played in New York since 2016, he retired as a true legend of the Giants franchise.
“Obviously Victor had a terrific career and [is] a great Giant, and a guy who kind of exploded onto the scene in this preseason game versus the Jets coming up in 2010,” Eli Manning said. “He kind of got injured, missed that whole year. 2011 is when he came on and really just had a great feel for the offense, for his routes in that slot, and he was tough to cover.
“Running down the field, breaking in, we gave him a lot of options. He mastered some of those concepts and gave him a great opportunity to get open and make big plays for us. Tremendous player, and a great guy. He was in the locker room a few weeks ago. I got to talk with him and hang out with him. Obviously, I wish him all the best going forward. I think he’s gone to the dark side and has gone into the media. I wish him all the best going over there.”
He will always be a Giant, his time here in New York was brief, but star-studded. Cruz embodied the story of an underdog, a player who wasn’t supposed to make it to college and twice was sent home from UMass for academic reasons. He turned his career around and became a fixture on the field for Big Blue.
Named an All-Pro in 2011 and to the Pro Bowl the next season, his story and perseverance is now forever etched into the walls of the Giants organization.
“What a great Giant,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “I remember playing against him when I was in Philly and we were certainly well aware of the impact he could have on a ballgame.
“I had a chance to meet him and be around him, and he certainly doesn’t need an invite from me, but much like all the ex-Giants, I look forward to seeing him at practice any time he wants to be here. So, congratulations to him.”