Victor Cruz: Eli Manning 'Absolutely' A Hall Of Famer

By WFAN Sports Radio 101.9 FM/66AM New York

Victor Cruz spent seven seasons with the New York Giants from 2010-16 and won Super Bowl XLVI, defeating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. He was also a Pro Bowler in 2012 with 1092 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

He joined Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on WFAN to discuss his time with the Giants, his iconic 99-yard touchdown versus the Jets back in 2011 (Sorry Jets fans!), etc.

The hot button topic in New York football circles with the retirement of Eli Manning is whether the two-time Super Bowl champion is a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Manning was Cruz's quarterback all seven of his years with the Giants. Cruz closed the debate on that.

"Absolutely. Two-time Super Bowl champion. Two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. Even though his accolades are more than what some guys in the Hall of Fame have right now at his position, playing in New York isnt easy. Going through that media hail storm win, lose or draw. The fact he handled all that with a straight face, humility, dignity, honor and respect. Embodied all those things. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because of that."

In Week 16 of the 2011 season, he tied the NFL record with a 99-yard touchdown catch against the rival Jets. This play is referred to by many as the turning point of the Giants 2011 season. In the same game, Cruz also surpassed Amani Toomer for the most single-season receiving yards by a Giant in franchise history.

"I would say sorry (to Joe and Evan as Jets fans) but it's just not in my blood .. just in that moment trying to make the best play for my team. At that time, we had nothing going offensively ... we needed something. A spark to happen ... to go 99, break a couple tackles, it was a moment I relished to help my team and help all of us get things going ... both organizations took a turn in different directions after that play."

Cruz had his breakout performance in the preseason versus the Jets in August 2010. The Giants won 31-16 and Cruz caught six passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns. He finished that 2010 preseason leading the NFL with 297 receiving yards, tied for the preseason lead with four touchdown catches, and was selected to the Giants' 53-man regular season roster. 

"It was a dream come true to be honest. I was doing well in practices ... I'm making plays but none of this matters unless it happens against a team. An opposing defensive back that doesnt know me and I can perform at a high level. To have three touchdowns at home, ton of family in the stands, ton of people from my hometown of Paterson, New Jersey tuning in."

"It was something I could've never imagined it happened. Distinctly I remember on the first touchdown, everything went dark, blank, silent. Just enjoying that moment and saying wow, I just made this team."

The Giants pulled off the impossible for the second time in five years, knocking off the Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl 46.

"Incredible. To have the year I had. Come on the scene, do all those great things, show my personality, show who I was on and off the field. To win a Super Bowl on top of that, everyone watching from my hometown, incredible and obviously beating the Patriots the second time around in a short period of time, you think the football gods are gonna shift and be in their favor."

Cruz caught four passes for 25 yards and a touchdown to help the Giants hold up the Lombardi Trophy.

"The fact we went out there and executed, had a perfect week of practices before the Super Bowl. All that prep carried over to the game and we executed better than the New England Patriots and we obviously came out victorious."

Listen to Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts' full interview with Super Bowl champion Victor Cruz above.