Sto­ry­book run over for Cruz

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - TOM CANA­VAN

EAST RUTHER­FORD, N.J. — The New York Gi­ants said good­bye to Vic­tor Cruz af­ter a seven-year sto­ry­book run dur­ing which he de­vel­oped into one of the NFL’s most feared re­ceivers and a fan favourite, help­ing the fran­chise to a Su­per Bowl ti­tle be­fore be­ing slowed by in­juries.

The Gi­ants an­nounced the part­ing Mon­day as they re­leased the 30year-old Cruz and start­ing run­ning back Rashad Jen­nings in moves that will save the team roughly $10 mil­lion in salary cap space.

The moves came about a month af­ter the play­ers helped the Gi­ants get back into the play­offs for the first time since play­ing in the Su­per Bowl in 2012.

“Vic­tor is one of the great sto­ries of the Na­tional Foot­ball League,” gen­eral man­ager Jerry Reese said. “It has been amaz­ing to see him grow from an un­drafted free agent to a Pro Bowl player and one of our go-to guys dur­ing the Su­per Bowl XLVI run. He will al­ways be one of the great Gi­ants.”

Cruz has 303 catches for 4,549 yards and 25 touch­downs in his ca­reer. His re­cep­tions and yardage to­tals are 10th in Gi­ants his­tory, and his 25 touch­downs are 17th.

An un­drafted free agent out of Mas­sachusetts, Cruz grew up roughly 10 miles from the Mead­ow­lands. He so­lid­i­fied his spot on the ros­ter in 2010 with three touch­down catches in a pre-sea­son game against a Jets team coached by Rex Ryan.

Cruz was also a leader on the team and up front with re­porters.

“I did some great things there. There are so many ex­pe­ri­ences, times and mo­ments that I shared in that build­ing with that team in that jer­sey,” Cruz said. “Those can’t be re­placed or for­got­ten.”

A knee in­jury and a calf prob­lem caused him to miss most of the 2014 sea­son and all of the fol­low­ing sea­son. He made a re­mark­able re­turn this past sea­son but was lim­ited to 39 catches and one touch­down, which was the only time he got to cel­e­brate with his salsa dance in the end zone. He was gen­er­ally the third op­tion for Eli Man­ning be­hind Odell Beck­ham Jr. and rookie Ster­ling Shep­ard.

Jen­nings, who will turn 32 next month, joined the Gi­ants as a free agent in 2014, af­ter four sea­sons with the Jack­sonville Jaguars and one with the Oak­land Raiders. In three years, he played in 40 games and rushed for 2,095 yards and 10 touch­downs. He also had 94 re­cep­tions for 723 yards and two scores.

The Gi­ants’ lead­ing rusher this past sea­son with 593 yards, Jen­nings’ ca­reer to­tals in­clude 3,772 rush­ing yards and 25 scores.

“Rashad is a pro’s pro, on and off the field,” Reese said. “He came to work ev­ery day and did ev­ery­thing we asked him to do, and al­ways worked ex­tra to get bet­ter at his craft.”

Jen­nings, who missed three games this past sea­son with a thumb in­jury, reached the play­offs for the first time in his eight-year ca­reer. He be­came ex­pend­able — for now — with the devel­op­ment of rookie Paul Perkins.

“It’s an honour to play here, play­ing for a team that has so much his­tory, a team that falls un­der great lead­er­ship and high char­ac­ter,” Jen­nings said. “In the mecca of ev­ery­thing, the re­la­tion­ships I’ve built are price­less. The peo­ple, the fans, team­mates, ownership, I’ve been blessed to play with the Gi­ants and see that side of the NFL.”

Cruz and Jen­nings plan to con­tinue their ca­reers.


Af­ter seven years with the team, the New York Gi­ants have re­leased fan favourite Vic­tor Cruz.

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