That's the theory Cruz cooked up for an episode of the Breakfast Club on WWPR-FM in New York earlier this week. Before diving in, we'll let the quotes air out a bit.
"Half the year I'm balling and then the other half I'm not getting the ball," Cruz says on the show. "You're just like 'What's going on?' I'm like OK. I see what's happening. They don't want me here anymore. Because granted, and a lot of people probably don't know this, but let's say I play well, I'm a 1,000-yard receiver last year, it would have been more difficult from a fan perspective to cut me.
"You know, If I'm a 1,000-yard guy they'd be like, well, why are you cutting Cruz? He just had 1,000 yards, five, six touchdowns. That doesn't make sense. But if I have 500 yards or whatever the case may be, it's a lot easier for the fans to be like 'Oh well he didn't play well, so that's why they cut him.'
"And if I played well, they were due to -- they owed me a ton of money that next year so it was like, let's get Cruz off the books."
This is some kind of dastardly plan by the Giants who, by the way, declined to comment on the matter. In the midst of trying to erase a five-year playoff drought and break in their first new head coach in 11 years, they also made sure to purposely squeeze out a franchise legend by ensuring that Eli Manning instead throw to Odell Beckham -- quite possibly the best receiver in football.
Well, the jig is up. Time to come clean, Ben McAdoo!
Cruz was a wonderful player during his time with the Giants and helped the franchise win a Super Bowl. His story -- coming from Paterson, New Jersey, getting lost in the shuffle at UMass, clawing his way onto the roster as an undrafted free agent -- was inspiring. His outreach in the area to this day is essential for a young group of kids growing up there. In group and small setting interviews, he's more than gracious with his time and insight -- which is often quite valuable.
But if he is now surrounding himself with the kind of people who think the feelings he expressed Thursday are cogent -- one that other people will take seriously -- I feel quite bad for him.
The rest of the interview did not fare much better.
Cruz went on to ding the Giants' offensive line after agreeing Manning hasn't had the best of seasons lately:
"[Manning] is not a guy -- you have to put an offensive line in front of him that's going to keep him upright so he can survey the field and make things happen. And the last couple of years he hasn't had the amount of time that he's typically had to make the best throws and make the best decisions. A lot of it is rushed and things like that. That probably played a factor in it as well."
He also suggested that he's heard teams are hesitant to sign him because he cares too much about endeavors into the sneaker and fashion world -- and then promoted the sneakers and television show in his answer.
"I mean they think my priorities aren't football anymore," Cruz said. "They're trying to say I'm more focused on fashion and sneakers and outside business than I am about football but I tell everybody, I'm very much a football player. Yeah, I like to do all those things outside the field. Yeah, I have my own show on MTV now that is airing called The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. I like doing all those things off the field to set myself up long term, but I'm very much a football player right now. That's my focus for sure."
"...One of the teams, I got some inside information like -- is he worried about selling sneakers now? Is he worried about fashion? I was like..."
"It's called the Air Trainer Cruz, go to your select sneaker retailers and go pick that up."
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Cruz selling sneakers or hosting a television show. I agree with his overarching premise -- that good players need to use football as a platform to set themselves up for life after the game and that NFL teams are dunderheaded when it comes to most constructive non-football activities undertaken by players. His idolization of Michael Strahan is great, and Cruz is clearly talented on the air, as a spokesman and as a designer of men's footwear.
I wonder, though, if he knows how these words sound to the teams debating whether or not to invite him to camp. A majority of the interview seemed cathartic for Cruz, who is undoubtedly going through a difficult transition in his career. He tried to do some damage control after the interview via his own personal Twitter page with the following message:
Then what, exactly, was he trying to say?