Before there was Jeremy Lin in New York, the big breakout player of the year was New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. The young wide receiver, who grew up not far from where the Giants play at the Meadowlands, didn’t accumulate any statistics in three games in 2010, before completely storming onto the scene with more than 1,500 yards and three touchdowns in 2011. Oh, and his salsa dance following touchdowns were an immediate hit.
Cruz was able to bust out that move during the Super Bowl on Sunday, catching a touchdown as the Giants captured the Lombardi Trophy. Now, after such a big season, Cruz says he deserves a new contract.
Victor Cruz joined ESPN New York with The Michael Kay Show to discuss if the Super Bowl win has sunk in, the nerves leading up to and during the game, his touchdown catch, wanting a new contract, why he went public with that desire, proving that he wasn’t a flash in the pan, the story of the hour in Jeremy Lin and what it’s like to go from unknown to celebrity.
Has everything sunk in at this point?:
“It’s slowly starting to sink in. I’m slowly realizing that we just won the Super Bowl and I’m getting a ring pretty soon. It’s pretty crazy.”
Was it more nerve-wracking going into the Super Bowl than it was any other game you’ve ever played?:
“Definitely. Just having all that time to talk about our team and dissecting us for two weeks and just expecting who’s going to be the big player, who’s going to the MVP. It’s a lot of pressure going in. It was definitely nerve-wracking, but once we got out to Indy and I got to relax and my family came, it was all good.”
Once the game starts, is the pressure lifted and is it just another game?:
“You can just tell it’s just another game, another football game, and feel that way. But there’s just points in time throughout the game where you think about it and in the back of your mind, you’re like, this is for the ring, this is for the Lombardi. It kind of hits you periodically at times throughout the game, but it was a great experience.”
Take us through your touchdown catch:
“I cut across and the linebacker kind of slashed across my vision. I thought he was going to at least tip the ball or something like that. But he ran right past it and it hit me and I bobbled and saw it hanging there and reached my hands out and … I just grabbed it and scored and it was salsa time after that.”
You’d like a new contract. Do you think this will get contentious going into next season?:
“I hope not. I kind of just hate talking about stuff like this. I just hope it’s something we can take care of. Hopefully, I feel like I’ve earned it. Going into next year, hopefully my agent can get the next deal done.”
Why did you take your desire for a new deal public?:
“Whatever way that my agency and everybody in my camp wants to handle it, then we can handle it. I just got asked the question earlier today. I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers or anything crazy. I was just answering the question. I’ll be discussing it with my agent and we’ll see how we want to approach it.”
People have wondered throughout the process if you were just a flash in the pan. You’ve proved that you aren’t. Did you have to prove that to yourself at all?:
“I always understood my talent and understood that once I got my opportunity, I could really do some positive things. I knew that I could do all those good things that I’ve done this year, it just took … going out there and physically doing it. I just kept a humble mind and just stayed level-headed and attacked every game, every opportunity and every play with everything that I had.”
Did you see that people are calling Knicks guard Jeremy Lin the Victor Cruz of the Knicks?:
“I saw that. Adam Schefter tweeted that he’s the basketball’s Victor Cruz. That was pretty cool. I did watch his last game and he’s tearing it up. He’s single-handedly winning some of these games for the Knicks. It’s definitely refreshing to see something like that in New York.”
Is it overwhelming to go from an afterthought to having the cameras in your face?:
“A little bit. But I guess it kind of comes with the territory. You want to be a good player, you dream of scoring touchdowns and this and that. To have the cameras in my face, you just have to welcome it and remain yourself.”