Many people believe that a player who celebrates with a choreographed dance after a touchdown is a self-absorbed athlete who enjoys the attention, and is willing to pay the fines coming their way. And if you said that anyone other than Ochocinco aka Chad Johnson were going to do a salsa dance as their planned routine, much less a member of the very staid New York Giants, people would think you were crazy.
But Victor Cruz changed a lot of perceptions last year, taking the league by surprise with his now famous salsa dance. Cruz, unlike Johnson or any other player in the league, decided to do the celebration for other reasons besides drawing attention to himself. Actually, the once un-drafted free agent out of UMASS had no intention of even doing the dance until the quarterback’s coach recommended he do so.
“My quarterbacks coach just inspired me to do something to represent my heritage. At the beginning I was like I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’m not dancing in the end zone. Then I told him I’d do it and it kind of came out and then kind of took the league by storm after that,” said Cruz.
Cruz, originally came up with the idea of doing the salsa dance because he wanted to do something for his grandmother who taught him the dance during their time together when he was a kid. Compared to other post-touchdown scores, this one tells a story like none other, in a way which represents the NFL in good fashion. The Cruz story demonstrates how a player worked hard to earn every bit of attention he has been given and how his goal was to honor his family roots while doing so.
The 2011 Pro Bowl wide receiver had to earn his way onto the roster and into the starting lineup, which is not an easy task starting as an undrafted free agent. But after an exceptional season last year, he can add Super Bowl Champion and Pro Bowl to his resume. And for anyone to see his touchdown salsa dance, Cruz still had to score for this celebration to become popular.
Working hard to be on the same page with Eli Manning was what Cruz attributed his success to, and that success translated to 82 receptions for 1,536 yards and 9 touchdowns last season.
“Just being able to build a rapport in the meeting rooms and understanding what he sees, what he expects out of me each and every week. I think it was more of the communication that we had, which really led to developing a good relationship,” said Cruz.
The Giants and Cruz will have their hands full in the upcoming 2012 season as they try and defend their title and repeat as champs. Cruz won’t be a surprise anymore as defenses gear up to stop him, so it will be interesting to see how the second year of Cruz being in the spot light plays out.
While we don’t know what the future holds for Cruz in years to come, we do know that as he continues to score for the Giants, the popularity of his salsa dance will continue to grow. Some analysts think he has only scratched the surface of how good he can be, so NFL fans better get used to seeing salsa dances in the end zone.
By Billy Bonneau