Victor Cruz was not targeted with much frequency during his comeback 2016 season. The former Giants wide receiver who shocked the world in 2011 with 1,536 yards and 9 TDs and became a cultural icon with his classic Salsa Dance celebration reportedly has accused the organization of intentionally suppressing his production in order to make it easier for the team to cut him.
Cruz didn't seem to have the same athleticism or separation speed that he dazzled the NFL with in seasons prior to suffering a rash of injuries, but he says the lack of production is not his fault.
"I felt it all year long. Halfway through the year I'm ballin', the other half I'm not getting the ball. And you're just like, 'what's going on?' It was like 'ok, I see what's happening. They don't want me here anymore.' " Cruz said during an appearance on 105.1 FM's The Breakfast Club. "A lot of people probably don't know this… Let's say I played well - was a 1,000-yard receiver last year - it would have been more difficult from a fan perspective to cut me."
"If I am a 1,000-yard guy, they're like 'why are you cutting Cruz? He just 1,000 yards and five or six touchdowns. That doesn't make sense.' But if I have 500 yards or whatever the case may be, it's a little easier on the fans."
Cruz finished the season with 39 receptions for 586 yards and only one touchdown. It was the wide receiver's first season back on the field after missing the previous two due to injuries.
His reasoning is not far-fetched. Teams tend to hold players back when they are either trying to phase the player out and incorporate other talent, or they want to justify releasing a popular player. Marcus Allen was blackballed most of his Oakland Raiders career. At least the Giants kept it short and sweet.
Cruz was also tight about he fact that he had reachable incentives in his contract that would have earned him a large sum of money in 2017.
"If I played well, they owed me a ton of money that next year," said Cruz. "So it was like, 'let's get Cruz off the books.' "
All great things must come to an end and Victor Cruz’s rags-to-riches ride in NY has run its course.
"It hurt, to be real. I gave so much to them. Seven years," Cruz said. "It definitely hurt . . . but every run has to stop at some point."
In actuality, the Giants showed Cruz great loyalty and stuck with him during his injuries and lengthy inactivity. On the bright side, he was able to return from those career threatening injuries, perform admirably last year and say goodbye to a Giants faithful that helped give him a greater life than he could have ever imagined growing up in the streets of New Jersey.
Cruz stopped short of saying that quarterback Eli Manning was in on it, but he says there was an obvious effort to avoid throwing him the rock.
"It's hard to believe. Even just to think about someone coming up to the quarterback and saying 'hey, don't throw it here' or 'don't give it to this guy' - it's hard to even fathom that thought. Which I don't even know or think happens. I doubt it," said Cruz. "But when you look at the film and look at how it goes down, it's the only way."
Of course Cruz’s story hit social media like a Tsunami, prompting him to clean up another social media moment gone bad.
Early this morning Cruz sent out a tweet clarifying his statements and blaming media headlines for taking his words out of context and saying he was sabotaged.