Throwback Thursday: How Victor Cruz Honored His Abuela

Ahmed Shifa

In 2011, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz burst onto the scene, catching 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. That year, he also helped lead the Giants to a Super Bowl upset over the New England Patriots.

As an undrafted receiver back in 2010, he made his first impression in the preseason, catching 15 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns, including his breakout game against the Jets, which some believe was instrumental in helping him make the 53-man roster.

Unfortunately, Cruz landed on the injured reserve that year, perhaps a blessing in disguise given that Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon, and Hakeem Nicks were all in front of him on the depth chart.

In 2011, Cruz, Cruz would get his opportunity. Smith would sign with the rival Philadelphia Eagles after the lockout, and both Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon would go down early on.

After Brandon Stokley, who was brought in to provide depth, ended up injured, the Giants turned to Cruz. By Week 3, the Paterson, New Jersey native became Eli Manning’s favorite target.

In a Week 4 game against the Eagles, Cruz caught the game-winning touchdown, snatching the ball away from two defenders. He dominated the rest of the season, including six catches for 178 yards and a touchdown in Week 17 that led to the Giants clinching the NFC East.

Cruz recorded another 1,000-yard receiving season in 2012 and fell just two yards shy of that mark in 2013, that due to a knee injury that ended his 2013 season two games early.

In 2014, Cruz voted a team captain, suffered a severe knee injury after only six games, which would lead to him missing the rest of that year plus the following season.

He would return to the Giants in 2016 for one more season before moving on to the Bears for a summer.

Of all the memories Cruz brought Giants fans--and there were a lot--the most heartwarming was his signature Salsa dance that he dedicated in honor of his Abuela, Lucy Molina, whom he lot on September 10, 2012.

Cruz's grandmother had taught him the dance as a child, and as a tribute to her, he broke out the dance after every touchdown he scored before pointing up at the sky toward her in tribute.

As a further tribute to his Abuela, Cruz resoled to play in that weekend's game against the Bucs, despite his grief. In that game, he scored the game-tying 80-yard touchdown, capping it off with the touchdown salsa.

“She came into my mind as soon as I caught it,” Cruz told reporters after the game. “I knew it was time to honor her, and I knew she was with me. It was almost like the place kind of went silent, and I was just there dancing with her.”

It was a sweet tribute but a fan favorite that will live on in the memory of Giants fans for years to come.