I was born a Packers fan. My father raised me to love the Packers and dislike the Vikings. He’s been a Packers fan my entire life. Makes sense for him beings that many say the Vikings are the Packers biggest rivals. I didn’t catch on to my fathers words of wisdom and never officially caught onto being a Pack fan. His best friend did however convince me to be a fan of Washington. So at the ripe old age of 6, maybe 7, I was decked out in burgandy and gold complete with snout. Something changed though in October of 1988. As an 8 year old child, I was very impressionable. I remember watching Randall Cunningham against the Giants on Monday Night Football. He amazed me with his athleticism and leadership. That night the Eagles got one more fan.
When my oldest was born, I knew from the second he started crying, I was going to have a Sunday buddy for life. Since he was in a diaper, we’ve watched the Eagles together. He, like myself, loves the team and the organization. As an Eagles fan, it’s natural for me to not like Washington, Dallas, and NY, right? Well, I’ve never really cared for any of them (past the age of 7 that is). If I had to pick one team out of those three that I dislike the most, it would defiantly be, without a doubt, the NY Football Giants. I can list a litany of reasons why, but I’ll spare you, and I the time. Throughout the years, I’ve learned how to dislike any and all Giant players in a special way. I was batting a thousand until 2011.
In October of 2011 I was down in Iowa visiting a friend. I decided to stay and watch the noon games with him. As we bellied up to the TV to watch my beloved Eagles, I noticed a skinny slot receiver warming up for the Giants. You see the Giants had a few injuries that year and lost one or two guys to free agency. Victor Cruz would torch my favorite team that game for over 100 yards and two TD’s on only 3 catches. For whatever reason, I wasn’t hating him though. Throughout the game, the announcers shared some of his background and I was more than impressed with it.
Later that year, or maybe the next, I vividly remember watching ESPN’s Sunday Countdown. They talked about how Cruz lived with his grandmother as a young man. They shared his story of how his grandmother wanted him to stay off the streets so she introduced him to salsa dancing. I thought “How cool is that?!?!?!” Instead of the same old song of dance that we’ve heard plenty of times about how this sport, or that sport saved someone’s life, here’s a pro athlete who kept his nose clean by dancing salsa! Pretty impressive if you ask this Eagles fan.
Throughout the last few years, Cruz seems to have big game after big game against the team I hold near and dear to my heart. With each dance he performed across the end zones of each stadium in the league, I began to not only respect him, but dare I say, like him!?!? I’m an Eagles fan through and through. I’m supposed to get upset every time this guy helps his team win a game. So what’s different about Victor Cruz? I wish I had a good answer for that.
As my family sits and watches the Sunday Night Game, Victor Cruz heads to the back pylon for what is sure to be a TD against my beloved Eagles. As he reaches out for the ball, his hand snaps back and grabs his knee. In an instant, his season is over. Victor Cruz had torn his patellar tendon. My oldest son, my wife and I sat on the couch as silence took over my living room. I’ve never met VC. I’ve never talked to him or shook his hand. He has no idea who me, or any member of my family is. Yet, my heart aches for this man. My oldest asked me why I was so quiet. My response was fairly simple. My father taught me this at a young age and I’ve passed it down to my children. “You never want to see, or wish for any player to get seriously hurt”
I respect Victor Cruz the player. More so, I respect Victor Cruz the man. From his humble beginings to his stardom in the best sport on the planet. For some they may be disappointed because their fantasy team just lost their stud receiver. For others they may be bummed out because their favorite player is sidelined. I’m sure there are people out there actually happy about the injury. For me? I’m bummed out to see one of the real good guys in the sport I love lose his season over a gruesome injury. As an Eagles fan, I wish him a speedy recovery and hope he gets on the field soon. Now I’m sure there will be an Eagle fan or two that will have some unpleasantries for me and that’s ok. At the end of the day, Victor Cruz is good for The League. He has an amazing story and holds himself with high character. If the NFL had more Victor Cruz and less (insert players name here) The League would be in much better shape.
I can’t speak on behalf of all Eagles Nation but I can speak on behalf of my house, which is full of Eagles fan, when I wish one of our favorite players, NY Giants Wide Reciever, Victor Cruz a speedy recovery. I hope he’s back to 100% next year and continues to set a good example for both old and young. The NFL lost a great player on Sunday and an even better person for the better part of the 2014 season.