Victor Cruz wrong to suggest New York Giants held him down

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Victor Cruz can blame fate or the football gods, not the New York Giants, for how his career has played out over the past few years.

Nobody can blame former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who signed with the Chicago Bears on May 25, for having any anger or resentment about how his career has played out over the past few years. Back in October 2014, Cruz was a beloved figure among Big Blue fans and a top-tier target of quarterback Eli Manning playing alongside then-rookie talent Odell Beckham Jr.. The future seemed bright for Cruz and the Giants.

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Things changed forever that month, though, as Cruz suffered a serious and potentially career-ending knee injury during a contest versus the Philadelphia Eagles. The one-time Super Bowl champion missed the rest of the 2014 campaign and the entire 2015 season, and he wasn’t the same explosive force on the field in 2016. Understandably, the Giants parted ways with Cruz earlier this year.

For whatever reasons, Cruz decided to hit out at the Giants regarding this decision during an appearance on the radio program “The Breakfast Club” earlier this week. Essentially, Cruz accused the Giants of some form of sabotage that involved holding him down and preventing him from posting impressive numbers that he feels would have earned him a new contract with the club:

Cruz’s words did not sit well with certain media members who cover the Giants or with fans of the franchise. Articles on the subject were typed out, and fans reacted as expected on Twitter and other platforms. In fairness to Cruz, he took to social media to deny he claimed the Giants had held him back in any way:

Unfortunately for Cruz, the Internet never forgets. There is both video and audio of Cruz directly claiming he felt he didn’t receive targets in certain occasions, in part, because the Giants wanted to “get him off the books” in his own words. As Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post explained, Cruz’s claims have little merit when you look at the numbers from last season:

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"During the first eight games of the season, Cruz was targeted 42 times, slightly more than five targets per game. Cruz missed the team’s ninth game of the season but played the seven games after that and was targeted 30 times — roughly four per game. The difference: one target per game, hardly enough to support Cruz’s claim he was phased out of the offense."

Let’s take a moment and examine the idea behind a conspiracy theory that the Giants actively plotted to prevent Cruz from having an All-Pro season. For this to work in favor of the club, head coach Ben McAdoo would first need to receive the order from ownership or from general manager Jerry Reese. Assuming McAdoo’s head didn’t literally explode from such a notion, he’d then have to convince Manning, an ultra-competitive two-time Super Bowl MVP, to also be in on it.

Wait; there’s more. After willingly accepting to run Cruz’s stint with the Giants straight into the ground, Manning would have to ignore Cruz routinely getting open during games, even if doing so meant jeopardizing the team’s chances of winning. The last piece of the puzzle would involve 2016 rookie Sterling Shepard receiving targets he didn’t deserve even though he did find the end zone eight times during the season.

It’s all making sense now. Obviously, the Giants cutting Cruz was all about money potentially owed to him and had nothing to do with the fact he simply wasn’t the player of old and may never be again. Or maybe we all took Cruz’s comments out of context. As Dan Benton of USA Today explained earlier this month, Cruz is familiar with taking that route after saying things he may have regretted after the fact.

Let’s not forget Cruz is in the NFL and a multi-millionaire today because of the Giants. After going undrafted in 2010, Cruz ultimately found a home on the New York depth chart, in part, because of injuries to other players. Had Manning and Cruz not formed an on-the-field partnership starting in 2011, it’s possible Cruz would be an anonymous figure to the majority of individuals reading this sentence.

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The positive here for Cruz is the Giants have a history of welcoming former players back who failed to cover themselves in glory following their playing days with the club. Cruz’s words that he totally didn’t mean and that were taken out of context by the cruel and dishonest media will be forgotten, and he’ll be applauded by Giants fans during a future ceremony that will honor that championship team. Good. He deserves the recognition.

It’s just too bad Manning, McAdoo and the Giants were so against him last season.