Musing from your Post Master General
Week Seven of the NFL season began last night with the now 6-1 Seattle Seahawks besting the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 34-22. Russell Wilson led the way with three touchdown passes in the contest. The young quarterback is proving that his remarkable rookie exploits from last year were no fluke. In 2012, Wilson was selected by the Seahawks as the 75th pick overall in the third round of the NFL draft, proving once again that you can find potential franchise changing talent at any place in the draft. In some rare cases, talent can be found even in those that all NFL franchises deem undraftable. Every year these undrafted free agents fight for spots on teams, hoping for the one chance to prove themselves worthy enough to contribute in the league where they play for a paycheck One of those undrafted players who was able to prove their worth and contribute to a world championship team is the featured personality in our segment recognizing the accomplishments of Hispanics and Latin Americans in the NFL, Football Americano. His name is Victor Cruz, wide receiver for the New York Giants.
Victor Cruz was born to an African American father and a Puerto Rican mother in the ethnically diverse city of Paterson, New Jersey on November 11, 1986. Cruz was raised by his mother and his Puerto Rican born and bred grandmother on the largely Hispanic East Side of Paterson. Cruz played football in his youth at Paterson Catholic High School. While there, some of his classmates questioned why a Puerto Rican would concentrate so much time and energy on football when it was the sport of baseball that is most associated with the island commonwealth. This did not deter Cruz as he looked at star NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez as role model for his own future success.
Though not considered a top prospect out of secondary school, Cruz was still able to make the football team at the then FCS level University of Massachusetts. He struggled with his academics his first couple of years on campus, and thus was not able to really contribute till his final two years at the school. In 2008 and 2009, he was named First Team All Colonial Athletic Association at his position of wide receiver. By the time he graduated, he was an accomplished player by UMass standards, but had yet to receive a decent look from NFL scouts. Because of this, he was passed over by every team in the 2010 NFL draft.
Despite growing up a Dallas Cowboys fan, he was more than elated to learn that the arch rival but home town New York Giants were interested in his services. They signed him a day after the draft and he reported to camp with hopes of making the team. His chances of finding a place on the squad were enhanced by a standout performance in a pre-season contest against the New York Jets. The then unknown Cruz caught six passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns. The Giants decided to retain his services for the 2010 season but injuries and lack of playing time made him a nonfactor that year.
2011 would be a very different season for Victor Cruz as he would catch and dance his way into success and the hearts of all Giants fans. The departure of wide receiver Steve Smith, a favorite target of quarterback Eli Manning created room for the Giants in their receiving unit. Cruz jumped to fill the void and by week 3 he has scored his first two NFL touchdowns. On his first score, a coach had suggested he do a salsa dance in the endzone in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. He obliged and created a sensation with his new patented move. He would continue the touchdown dance moving forward in his career, dedicating it to his deceased salsa loving grandmother who taught him the moves in the first place.
Another moment in what would become a season of highlights was a record tying 99 yard touchdown run in week 16, once again against the New York Jets. His performance in the game would help propel the Giants into the playoffs. Victor Cruz would finish his breakout season with 1,536 yards receiving, 9 touchdowns and earn himself a trip of the Pro Bowl. All these accolades would mean very little compared to the trophies that would come next. The Giants marched though the playoffs and all the way to the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants came out on top in thrilling fashion, besting the New England Patriots 21-17. Cruz scored a touchdown in the game and was able to show off his patented salsa moves in front of the eyes of the entire nation.
Cruz would go to prove that 2011 was no fluke as he once again accumulated over 1,000 yards receiving. As a recognizable face both on and off the field, Victor Cruz has become one of the Hispanic torchbearers in today’s NFL. Though the Giants don’t look to be making the Super Bowl this year as they have yet to earn a win, Cruz continues to command the attention of defenses week in and week out. At the age of 26, its evident that Victor Cruz will have plenty of time to add accolades to this trophy case.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed this weeks edition to our series recognizing the exploits of Hispanics and Latino American’s in the National Football League, Football Americano. Don’t forget to stop by every Friday for a new profile and if you happen to have missed any previous posts, feel free to click the following link. Thanks and enjoy Week 7 football fans.
photos courtesy of newyorker.com, northjersey.com, bostonherald.com,espn.com, nj.com