Put up columnist Steve Serby caught up with 2011 Massive Blue Tremendous Bowl champion Victor Cruz for some Q&A earlier than the crew celebrates the 10-year anniversary of that title.
Q: Is it onerous so that you can imagine that it’s been 10 years since Tremendous Bowl XLVI?
A: Man … I knew today would come. Whereas I used to be there, you see the ’07 crew come again, otherwise you see the 1990 crew come again, and also you’re simply seeing all these guys and also you’re like, “All proper, that’s gonna be me (chuckle) someday.” And now the day’s come. It’s a loopy feeling.
Q: One second from that season that stands out to you about Eli Manning?
A: I bear in mind in San Francisco within the NFC [Championship] recreation, I’m coming again to the huddle, Eli’s getting pummeled, and I see him stand up, and there’s grass all over the place throughout his face, chinstrap up by his nostril, he’s sort of like on his knees like on his method up, and received within the huddle, all of the offensive linemen cleaned him all up, he buckled up his chinstrap and known as the following play — and by no means batted an eye fixed, by no means like … and I used to be similar to, “I gotta win for this f—ing man.”
Q: What do you consider him and Peyton Manning on ESPN2’s “Monday Evening Soccer”?
A: It’s unimaginable, like Eli’s flipping birds … like what are you doing, Eli? (snort). However I feel it’s nice for individuals to lastly see their dynamic and the way they’re and the way a lot enjoyable they’ve collectively. It’s actually like a peek backstage of only a dinner desk with the Mannings, which is fairly cool.
Q: Describe one second from that season about Brandon Jacobs.
A: After we beat the Atlanta Falcons [in the NFC wild-card game], he was standing sort of on the sideline speaking to Mr. [Steve] Tisch, and he’s pointing at me in his Brandon Jacobs method yelling on the high of his lungs, he goes, “I promise you, if we play like this, we gonna beat Inexperienced Bay, we gonna beat all people, it’s not gonna matter!” That was him. He wore his wore his coronary heart on his sleeve, he yelled most likely extra instances than he talked softly, however he was obsessed with his crew and he liked us to demise.
Q: One reminiscence about Justin Tuck from that season?
A: We’d have sneaker battles, proper? Like, we had been each sneaker guys. And we’d decide one sure sneaker and designers, too, and see who might put on that precise shoe in all of the totally different coloration schemes that we had all through the week of observe. So each day, if it was a Jordan 3, we must put on totally different variations of Jordan 3s all week lengthy. The following week we might decide one other one. … Us having our sneaker wars inside the facility.
Q: Who gained?
A: I imply, I gained, in fact. He gained’t admit that, clearly, if I do know Justin. However I took the crown.
Q: What made him the chief that he was?
A: I feel, one, simply having already been on the pinnacle, proper? Like, he’s already gained a Tremendous Bowl. He’d already been to that mountaintop and he knew the best way to get there. He knew there was a journey, he knew there was an extended street, and the best way that he carried himself, the respect that different gamers had for him, each on and off the sphere. I feel you simply noticed that instantly if you met him, and his demeanor, you knew that he was a frontrunner that led not solely along with his voice, however like he was gonna go on the market and put it out on the road for you between the strains as effectively.
Q: One reminiscence from that season of Osi Umenyiora?
A: Osi would at all times touch upon my vogue (chuckle). I bear in mind him being within the locker room, he would at all times stroll by, like after we had been touring and all people’d be having their fits on, and he would stroll by my locker, and cease, take a look at me, and quit a thumbs up or a thumbs down (chuckle), after which we’d go about our method. However I bear in mind being like the style advisor I didn’t know I wished.
Q: Might you think about what it was like for quarterbacks going up towards that Giants move rush?
A: No method. The kind of expertise that we had, the herd of beasts that they had been, the best way that it was coming from all angles … the best way they competed with themselves. … I’d stroll by their assembly room, and like after a recreation, everybody’s simply rewatching the sport and make corrections — they’d be screaming on the high of their lungs at like whose sack was higher, whose transfer was higher. … And I used to be similar to, “These guys are absolute animals,” and I feel that degree of completion was good for them to convey their “A” video games out every week, man, and it paid off.
Q: One Hakeem Nicks reminiscence from that season?
A: Oh, man, there’s so many. When there have been special-teams conferences, we might be in our receiving room wanting over movie, actually simply me and him and Mario [Manningham], too. I didn’t actually play rather a lot the yr earlier than, so we’re nonetheless making an attempt to get to know one another. That is in the direction of the tip of the yr now, perhaps just like the final two weeks of the season. I sort of knew, however that is when it was vocal to me that I, like, received his respect. And it was after I walked into the room, and he checked out me, and he was like, “Man, you balled out this season, you probably did your factor like on a distinct degree.” And I used to be similar to, “Thanks man, like I couldn’t have performed it with out you.”
Q: Any fond reminiscences from that season about any of the offensive linemen?
A: Two issues: One was David Diehl. Irrespective of the place I used to be on the sphere, regardless of the place I fell, regardless of the place I caught the ball and fell all the way down to the bottom, Dave Diehl was at all times the primary individual there to choose me up. Like he was probably the most well-conditioned offensive linemen that we had, and if I caught a 20-yard move, and I fell on the bottom and I received up, he was the primary individual there to love dap me up and decide me up off the bottom. Secondly, Kareem McKenzie simply being probably the most mild large human being that I’ve ever met in my whole life. Nothing made him indignant, by no means was like off-kilter, was probably the most even-keeled man whereas he was simply mauling individuals on the skin week in and week out (chuckle). And the way a lot all the offensive line simply performed by way of harm, they performed by way of being damage, they only performed by way of a lot, man.
Q: What do you bear in mind about Eli’s relationship with these guys?
A: There’s one occasion in the course of the Tremendous Bowl that just about embodies it. Eli arrange a dinner for all of us at St. Elmo’s [a renowned Indianapolis steakhouse]. We’re strolling to St. Elmo’s from the resort, and I used to be like, “Are you positive you wish to stroll? It’s the Tremendous Bowl, guys, and we’re in it!” So, growth, we stroll out of the resort, all 5 of our offensive linemen, are surrounding Eli, all through all the stroll. Like, actually in like a fortress the place nobody might get to him, and we walked easily right through some streets all the best way into the restaurant. And I used to be like, “There’s no method we’re gonna lose this recreation now. We’re an excessive amount of of a household to even remotely lose this recreation.”
Q: One reminiscence from that season of Tom Coughlin?
A: The reminiscence of him calling me into his workplace after I made the crew, and he stated, “Hey, in the event you don’t put up the identical quantity of power and output that you just put out the yr earlier than, there’s some guys on the waiver wire that we’re taking a look at.” (chuckle). And I used to be like, “OK. Famous.” That very subsequent week was Week 3, towards Philly [3-for-110, two touchdowns], and the remainder of his historical past.
Q: That was your first salsa, after your 74-yard catch-and-run landing?
A: It was put into my ear on the time by way of my coach, clearly Coach [Mike] Sullivan. And it was simply on my thoughts. As a lot as I didn’t wish to have it on my thoughts, I used to be similar to, “Properly, what if I do get in the long run zone?” And I used to be similar to, “Man, if I get in there, perhaps I’ll do it, no matter.” And the primary I catch I’ve … and I used to be similar to, “Properly rattling, I gotta do it now. It simply is smart.” After which I bear in mind coming house, my grandmother noticed it, I suppose they aired it on the Spanish channel, ’trigger that’s the one channel she watches. She was like, “To any extent further, each time you’re on the market and also you rating a landing, you gotta try this dance.”
Q: What did that one do to your confidence?
A: I imply, it was by way of the roof. It actually simply proves to me that I can play at this degree and that like I belonged.
Q: Describe your 99-yard catch-and-run landing up the sideline on Christmas Eve towards the Jets.
A: We had been backed up, actually not doing something as much as that second, after which to make the play that sort of catapults us and places some life into all the crew, I used to be pleased to be the one to do it.
Q: In order that’s a top-three second for you, perhaps?
A: Hundred p.c. Hundred p.c.
Q: What’s your No. 1 second?
A: The No. 1 second must be the Tremendous Bowl, proper? Scoring a landing within the Tremendous Bowl, you dream about that as a child. My sister gave me a guide after I was 7 about me being a soccer participant and being within the Tremendous Bowl subsequent to Jerry Rice. It was like this bizarre guide. It’s like an precise guide, however they make it customized so that they insert your title inside the storyline. Mainly the storyline was me watching the sport on TV, falling asleep, waking up, I’m within the recreation. … After which I find yourself like kicking the game-winner, which is hilarious (chuckle). And quick ahead, I’m within the Tremendous Bowl, Jerry Rice is strolling the sideline, and I’m right here scoring a landing.
Q: What was one Coughlin speech from that season?
A: Gotta go together with the Tremendous Bowl, proper earlier than the Tremendous Bowl, he gave an unimaginable speech. You can really feel that it got here from his coronary heart. It was a type of issues the place it actually simply motivates us, you could possibly inform it motivates us to play for him and to win this recreation and to proceed to meet all of our legacies, together with his. … He instructed us he liked us on the finish, that like he wouldn’t commerce us in for the world sort of factor.
Q: Had been you conscious that the Jets had coated up the Giants’ Tremendous Bowl logos earlier than that [Christmas Eve] recreation?
A: I had heard the commotion, however I feel I came upon like at halftime.
Q: Was it further satisfying ruining their playoff bid?
A: I imply, in fact. In case you look carefully on the 99-yarder proper on the very finish, I sort of like take a few he-ho steps and throw the ball into the Jets emblem into the wall. Snoopy Bowl, all of the chips on the road to go to the Tremendous Bowl or proceed to be within the hunt to go to the playoffs, we knew what was driving on it. We didn’t wish to disappoint.
Q: Describe the ambiance on the wild-card playoff recreation towards Atlanta.
A: Oh, my goodness, man. I’ve been to some large video games at MetLife, however to see the decibel degree of the voices in there, it was simply the loudest I had ever heard it. If I bear in mind accurately, they gave all people white towels, and it was simply completely electrical in there, and it was only a sound and a second that I’ll always remember.
Q: The Packers in Inexperienced Bay had been subsequent?
A: Chilly, chilly, chilly, chilly, chilly.
Q: How did you take care of the chilly?
A: I feel we simply sort of blocked it out. We made a aware resolution to go no sleeves. I simply made positive my chest was insulated and I used to be in a position to nonetheless be cellular and catch the ball and make all of the strikes I wished to make. Having that mindset with all of us, it actually simply made me be free and simply play, I wasn’t fascinated about the chilly till these TV timeouts that make it onerous to not.
Q: Describe Nicks’ Hail Mary TD catch earlier than halftime.
A: That was one for the ages.
Q: Your recreation within the NFC Championship recreation in San Francisco if you had 10 catches for 142 yards?
A: I used to be simply relentless, man. It was a type of video games the place I felt like all people’s watching, all people again house is watching, I can’t exit like a punk (chuckle), what I imply? Like I gotta be certain that they really feel me on this one. And I feel Eli knew that, too. I feel subconsciously or on his thoughts, he was like, “I’m gonna search for Vic early and infrequently.” I might really feel Coach [Kevin] Gilbride [offensive coordinator] setting me up for fulfillment all through the week of observe, which gave me all the boldness on the planet as soon as recreation time got here round.
Q: And when Lawrence Tynes kicked the game-winning area aim in additional time?
A: I imply, we’re going to the Tremendous Bowl, child! I simply bear in mind realizing in that second like: “I’m about to go to the Tremendous Bowl and play within the highest recreation of my life, the sport that I’ve been dreaming about since I used to be a child, for the reason that first time I turned the TV on and noticed what soccer was.” Like … I’m going to that recreation. I used to be operating across the area like just a little child, simply having fun with that second, man. It was a surreal feeling.
Q: Did you guys take pleasure in being underdogs once more, 4 years later, towards the Patriots?
A: We liked being that crew that no one anticipated to win.
Q: How about Manning-to-Manningham?
A: Oh, my god, that’s most likely probably the most excellent ball I’ve ever seen Eli throw … ever. The way in which he put it proper within the pocket, Mario doing what he does greatest, tight-roping that sideline like he at all times does … it was simply excellent. And I bear in mind wanting on the replay after they had been difficult it or going by way of the play, and me counting, like him catching it and taking the 2 steps and simply being excited that he truly received the 2 ft in, I used to be simply going loopy.
Q: Little doubt in your thoughts that Eli’s a Corridor of Famer, right?
A: Not a single doubt, man. Two Tremendous Bowl wins, two Tremendous Bowl MVPs, slayer the dragon that’s Tom Brady twice. He’s in there for positive, in my guide.
Q: You’ll be 35 subsequent month. If Brady’s enjoying at 44, why can’t you play?
A: (Giggle) I’ve been saying that to myself each day, man, each single day.
Q: What had been you considering when Tom Brady was throwing deep on the finish?
A: I used to be holding my breath, man, I used to be pacing forwards and backwards the entire drive, after which when he threw it up within the air, and it felt prefer it was within the air for 3 hours, after which when it lastly got here down, I noticed Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] sort of dive for it, and as soon as it hit the bottom, I used to be similar to an enormous sigh (chuckle) of aid.
Q: What stands out to you about Kadarius Toney?
A: The explosiveness. It’s been some time since we’ve seen one of these explosiveness in a participant when he has the soccer in his palms. He’s sort of lengthy and stringy in a method, however he’s compact and makes all these strikes in a brief house which I like.
Q: In a method, he’s a mix of you and Odell Beckham Jr.?
A: Yeah it’s just a little little bit of each ’trigger he’s powerful in the midst of the sphere, he finds methods to get open in there, however that catch he made on the sideline over the [Cowboys] defender was Odell-like too. So he does just a little little bit of the whole lot, which I like.
Q: What are your ideas on Daniel Jones?
A: I’ve each religion in him that he’s the man for the job.
Q: And Joe Choose?
A: I like him, man. He’s a straight shooter, and he holds these guys accountable for the whole lot that they do. And I like that, and I feel they rally round that, and I feel the crew is embodying that persona in that side of him, and I feel it’s solely gonna pay dividends in the long term too, do, they only gotta keep the course, ?
Q: You began the Victor Cruz Basis in 2012?
A: We do quite a lot of nice work locally with the Boys & Women Membership simply getting children to study science, know-how engineering and math (STEM) in a enjoyable, cool method. I went to a White Home Science Truthful, and I simply noticed these younger children making these various things, they usually had been not more than 12, 13 … some children had been 10, 11 years outdated making these super-cool merchandise, and I wished to convey it to the children from my hometown [Paterson, N.J.].
Q: Did you meet President Obama?
A: I did, I did! He even talked about my title in a speech, which was completely insane.
Q: What do you watched your feelings might be on Sunday?
A: Simply nostalgic, like I’m simply excited to simply undergo reminiscence lane, and be with the fellas, and simply have that camaraderie again for that day. I’m excited simply to be across the guys once more, man, and reliving these moments and the tales that I most likely forgot about, that I’ll hear once more.
Q: How outdated is your daughter, Kennedy, now?
A: She’ll be 10 in January. She was born Jan. 9 of 2012. The day after the Atlanta recreation, she was born.
Q: Will she be there Sunday?
A: Yeah, I’m gonna convey her with me.
Q: What do you hope the legacy of the Tremendous Bowl XLVI is for Giants followers?
A: I simply need them to think about only a bunch of dudes that simply scrapped. We didn’t care what occurred, we had been simply gonna proceed to battle. We by no means doubted ourselves, man, and I simply need the followers to know that we had been a gaggle that by no means, ever give up. There was by no means any give up in our eyes, and we knew that we had the expertise to be particular that yr, and we actually dug deep and received it performed.
Q: What do Giants followers imply to Victor Cruz?
A: I simply suppose it’s been an unimaginable journey, and I don’t suppose it’s even near ending, I feel it’s nonetheless being written. However to have my journey play out in entrance of my hometown, and in entrance of my hometown followers, in entrance of my household, in entrance of all of the thousands and thousands of Giants followers the world over, man, it’s simply been an unimaginable experience. And the followers, they at all times present me a lot love all over the place I’m going. I’m in Dunkin’ Donuts, and I’m signing autographs for the man’s daughter. … I simply love the love, I simply love that everybody thinks of me as their household.
Q: What do you hope Giants followers say about Victor Cruz’s legacy?
A: Aw man … I simply need them to simply consider me as certainly one of them. I used to be really an individual that got here from simply down the street in Paterson and performed in entrance of my household, that’s the legacy I would like, I would like it to be like a household. And I at all times wished to have the ability to come again and faucet into my Giants household — followers, teammates, all people.