Victor Cruz was back in his native New Jersey Wednesday.
The former New York Giants receiver held his annual Pro Camps football and skills exhibition challenge at Union City High School, just 12 miles away from East Rutherford and the stadium he called home for the first seven years of his NFL career.
Cruz was released by the Giants on Feb. 13. He wasn’t happy with the way his release was handled, going so far as to accuse the Giants of tampering with his career. Cruz later signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.
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He says now he is driven to prove those who think he’s lost a step wrong.
“Every day,” Cruz said at his camp, which benefits the Victor Cruz Foundation which assists area youth. “Even after a Super Bowl or after an injury-riddled two years, I always feel like I have something to prove. I’ll always strap up my laces and helmet and have something to prove, because you do.
“You’re only as good as your last catch, your last game, your last year of production. That is what you’re marketed as. That is what they categorize you as, whatever your last showing is on the field.”
Cruz suffered a torn patellar tendon in Week 6 of the 2014 season. He then aggravated his calf during training camp in 2015. In total, Cruz missed a combined 26 of 32 games in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
He returned in 2016, catching 39 passes for 586 yards and two touchdowns. Cruz became expendable when Sterling Shepard began to excel as a slot receiver. After his release, he admitted that he felt as if he was being phased out of the offense.
Cruz says he still doesn’t know what went wrong with the Giants, he’s moved on to the next chapter of his professional life with the Bears.
“No, I haven’t had any conversations with anyone,” he said when asked if he spoke with anyone in the Giants organization since his release. “Everybody is underway with their programs and things they’re doing with their respective teams. Nobody has time to handle issues and for me to call and those things. We just turn the page and move on.”