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Hey, Victor Cruz: Think twice before tweeting

Jamie C. Harris | 7/18/2013, 2:29 p.m. | Updated on 7/18/2013, 2:29 p.m.
Victor Cruz

In just two years, Victor Cruz has evolved from being an obscure NFL hopeful to celebrity athlete. Now the New York Giants’ wide receiver must beware that he doesn’t become consumed and doomed by stardom.

Born to an African-American father and Puerto Rican mother, the 26-year-old Cruz has a mixture of magnetism, good looks and intelligence that has appealed to both fans and Madison Avenue. His meteoric rise from an undrafted free agent from the University of Massachusetts in 2010 to Super Bowl champion and Second Team All-Pro in 2011 is as unlikely and inspiring a narrative that the National Football League has produced in the past decade or so.

During that season, Cruz also set the franchise single-season reception record with 1,536 yards, catching 82 passes and scoring nine touchdowns. A remarkable accomplishment given his journey and the long, storied history of the Giants. Buttressed by his iconic TD salsa dance, the son of Paterson, N.J., and Paterson Catholic High School is one of the most popular athletes in sports.

For his production and importance to quarterback Eli Manning, the Giants signed Cruz to a five-year, $43 million contract earlier this month. They are hopeful Cruz will quantify their investment by continuing on his current pace of 2,626 receiving yards, 168 receptions and 19 touchdowns over the past two campaigns. But with great expectations and fame comes intense pressure and relentless scrutiny. Cruz experienced as much over the weekend when he tweeted his emotional response to the George Zimmerman’s polarizing acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

“Zimmerman doesn’t last a year before the hood catches up with him,” Cruz expressed.

His premature reaction is what countless men of color felt when the verdict was read, especially those who have been profiled and harassed by police and private citizens alike—the latter category under which Zimmerman falls.

Cruz subsequently apologized, but the incident at once revealed his social consciousness and naiveté. Cruz should use his celebrity wisely and not succumb to a super ego and hubris like so many before him.