Former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who has been out of the NFL since last offseason, officially announced on Tuesday that he is retiring form football. In a video on Uninterrupted, Cruz also said that he will join ESPN next season.
"The game of football has just given me so much," Cruz said. "As soon as I got on that practice field, as soon as I put on those pads and that uniform and started playing, it was just a place of kind of zen for me. My journey hasn't been the easiest. It definitely had its ups and downs and some rough patches. This last chapter of my life was a great one. Obviously, to win a Super Bowl, to play in a Pro Bowl, to have my daughter be born through all this as well. Football has given me an amazing platform to just do all kinds of things outside the game."
Cruz began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent who exploded for three touchdowns during a Giants-Jets preseason game. That explosion led to his getting more opportunity, and he eventually made the Giants' roster and quickly became one of their best offensive weapons. During his first real season of action with the Giants, Cruz caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. He followed that up by catching 86 passes for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns the year after. But then injuries began to take their toll.
Cruz's play slipped a bit during his third year with the Giants, and then he suffered a devastating injury during the 2014 season that eventually knocked him out for the final 10 games of that year, as well as all of the 2015 campaign. He returned to the Giants in 2016 but it was clear that he was not the same player who had taken the league by storm years earlier. After a disappointing 39-catch, 586-yard season, the Giants cut him loose. Cruz signed with the Bears last offseason, but he was released on the final cutdown day and did not catch on anywhere else during the year.
Cruz retires with 303 career catches for 4,549 yards and 25 touchdowns, but he goes down as an unmitigated success story for an undrafted player, and one who when at his peak was among the most exciting players in the league.