It might be better to congratulate Victor Cruz on his outstanding NFL season and burgeoning career rather than his recent selection as a Pro Bowl alternate. Second alternate, that is. After all, for this loyal UMass alum, a Pro Bowl selection for Cruz was such a no-brainer that being named a second alternate seems like a snub.
To be clear, Cruz said he was "honored" to be selected, and his humility and dedication to the sport are laudable. Those of us who witnessed Cruz's outstanding college career firsthand know that he's not an ego-driven athlete and never has been, despite the success. Nevertheless, for a guy who had a breakout season the likes of which Cruz and New York Giants fans have enjoyed, second alternate just doesn't seem right.
I'm not a Giants fan by any stretch, but I'm also not the only UMass alum in Massachusetts who's been pulling for Cruz in 2011. After going undrafted in 2010, few fans of the Massachusetts Minutemen doubted that Cruz would get picked up by an NFL team and embark on a successful career, but the speed of his rise has been breathtaking.
Last year, Cruz took to the field in just three games despite an exhilarating pre-season performance. As the 2010 season opener approached, Cruz caught 6 passes for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns in one pre-season game against the New York Jets, making it clear to the Giants and their fans that they'd gotten a great bargain on the young WR.
Nevertheless, it wasn't until this year that Cruz came into his own when injuries to the receiver corps finally gave him a chance to shine during the regular season. Cruz has since established himself as a potent weapon in the Giants' arsenal. As of the end of Week 15, he's racked up 1,358 yards and 8 touchdowns. He has an average of 17.9 yards per reception. Those stats have him ranked among the top ten among all receivers in the league, and his total yardage is third-highest overall.
None of his achievements are a surprise for UMass fans who saw him with their own eyes on the field at McGuirk Stadium. Second alternate may not be what Cruz deserves, but it's a safe bet that this won't be the last time he's named to the Pro Bowl. Maybe next time they'll get it right.
Taurus Londono graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2007.
- Sports & Recreation
- Sports & Recreation/American Football
- Victor Cruz