DO YOU SEE THIS FACE?
This face belongs to a very special Meat of My Minute I posted a while back.
That face is also a face I want to ride in the near future…
Although that is not the point of this entry.
That very well symmetric face was nearly riddled with bullets couple days back.
AND BOY AM I LATE!…
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There is a sad truth in how quickly Victor Cruz recognized the popping sounds in the New York City nightclub around him, how seamlessly Cruz’s instincts told him to dive under the table for safety, the same way he once ducked away from living room windows or scrambled off the Montgomery Park pickup courts near his Paterson, N.J., home.
Cruz never succumbed to the streets’ temptations growing up, yet endured a scary reminder of those youthful dangers Monday night, when a private celebration of his 25th birthday was interrupted by gunfire. A shooter entered Manhattan’s Juliet Supperclub sometime around 2:30 a.m. and opened fire, killing one patron and injuring two others.
“It’s not the first time I’ve heard them or seen something like that, but you definitely don’t want to see that at this point in my life,” Cruz said Wednesday, when the Giants returned to practice to prepare for their Sunday night national TV meeting with the Eagles. “Anytime anything like that happens, it’s frightening, no matter how many times you’ve heard a gunshot.”
The perils of the professional athlete’s personal life are well documented, from the temptation of monetary freedom to the price of a modicum of fame. But more than a cautionary tale about Cruz, by all accounts a mature young man, this was an object lesson, a reminder of life’s priorities. Cruz wasn’t thinking of football when he dove for cover, wasn’t running a passing route when he made sure his friends ran for safety.
He thought about family, about the daughter he and his longtime girlfriend are expecting in late January, about the first-ever grandchild he can’t want to introduce to his mom Blanca. These are the moments that crystallize what matters most, and Cruz is determined not to risk what he holds most dear.
“I have a baby on the way I can’t be involved in that. It’s a whole different ballgame now,” Cruz said. “She was the first thing that flashed through my mind.”
A middle-of-the-night phone call to the Giants’ offices about a player and gunshots brought a very different memory flashing to mind, but this was no redux of Plaxico Burress’ ill-fated decision to tuck a loaded gun into the waistband of his sweatpants on a night out in the Latin Quarter. Burress’ self-inflicted gunshot wound to his leg in 2008 cost him his Giants’ career and a 14-month prison sentence, which is why it is unfair to link his incident to Cruz.
Cruz did not bring the gun, and was in fact sitting in the opposite end of the club from what happened. He did not break any team rules, did not even blow a curfew since Tuesdays are the players’ day off. He has no apology to make, yet still understands in a way Burress never did that he could have made a better choice.
When he knelt next to the chair coach Tom Coughlin occupied after a team meeting Wednesday, he truly heard the words his coach said, really understood why Coughlin “would speak to him as a parent would speak to their son.”
“At first, he was like, ’Are you OK?’” Cruz said. “He said, ’Nobody with you got hurt, right?’ and then he said, ’It’s unfortunate (that it happened). Things like that can go either way, you never know. Just said be careful, be smart, don’t put yourself in any bad situations. You’re already a smart kid, be smart.
“And then he said, ’I don’t know what happens after 12 o’clock. But I know nothing good happens after midnight.’”
Coughlin might concede that point should Sunday night’s game move past Cinderella’s witching hour. He probably would allow for Cruz to use that time well on the field, perhaps repeating the late-game heroics of the Week 3 win in Philadelphia. The enduring image of that game, of Cruz pulling down a winning touchdown over All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, propelled the diminutive receiver with the Division I-AA resume into the national spotlight.
From a football perspective, Sunday night is about topping that performance. From a life standpoint, Sunday night is about appreciating the chance to play.
As Cruz prepared to leave the team’s training center Wednesday, he stretched his arms through the sleeves of a black crew-neck sweatshirt. Across the chest was the word Early. It is part of Cruz’s clothing line with partner Nate Collins, a former Giants practice-squad player. This is one of the wonderful spoils of Cruz’s burgeoning NFL life, a chance to pursue different dreams and display his varied talents. The apparel line is called “Young Whales,” and “Early” is one of its mantras.
“It’s one of the words we use, it’s the brand we want, the message that whatever you do, be early, get to work early, be the first one there, be the first one to start the day,” Cruz said.
From now on, he’ll be the first one to end the night. Be home early is the new rule in life. There’s too much at stake to risk otherwise.
“As my mom said to me, no more clubbing,” Cruz said. “When I get the finger wave from mom, I listen.”
Cruz gets it. Cautionary tale avoided; lesson learned.
I highly DOUBT he won’t be in the club again…
as most ballers repeat their same mistakes
(see number of ballers with multiple baby mamas)…
but glad to see he is okay and re-evaluating.
This is why I don’t do the club unless it is for work.
Black folks do not know how to ack’ up in there.
Plus, the club scene is different than how it use to be.
Before you use to go to let loose and have fun.
Now, it is on some new shit.
Straight and gay…
But, we need to make sure our Giants stay sexy… and safe.
Be careful out there everyone.
You can send your clothing line over here for some easy promotion EARLY!
I like that sweat shirt you were wearing at the coat drive for Fab.
Drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org