Giants fans hoping to see Victor Cruz this weekend will be left disappointed since he’s been ruled out of Sunday’s game at Buffalo. But if you’re so inclined, you could still catch him on television Friday. He’ll be dropping by the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
College football fans hoping to see Leonard Fournette this weekend will watch him tomorrow night in the Bayou. He’ll be rushing for approximately 700 yards when #9 LSU hosts Easten Michigan in Death Valley. Although there’s been a growing chorus suggesting he sit out the rest of his college days. Why risk injury and his future payday in the NFL?
It’s a bizarre between-worlds debate we’ve created around the modern athlete. Do you play for the team or protect your business interests? Or is the team your business interest? Cruz is questioned for not playing. Founette is questioned because he is.
Cruz recently told the New York Daily News his dream is to play James Bond one day, that he enjoys gin martinis, and would enjoy starring in a rom-com. Louie from Secaucus just spit lasagna all over his Mark Bavaro tattoo.
Bart Scott enjoyed an 11-year NFL career with the Ravens and the Jets after being an undrafted free agent. He’s already a media star, opining from the NFL on CBS studios every Sunday and joining me every Wednesday for two hours on CBS Sports Radio. He’s nailed the career after the career, but even he had some cautious words for the Giants wideout.
“Victor Cruz needs to stop going to Fashion Week… let’s not be seen until you’re ready to play football.”
“He’s making a lot of money off the field. He’s making in the millions with that. But you gotta understand it just doesn’t look right. To the fans and maybe some of his teammates. It just doesn’t look right. You just don’t want to be out seen having fun, over here, over there, if you’re not ready to play.”
“He’s done a great job branding himself in that way. How many young, black athletes are the face of a Paris-based brand like Givenchy? It’s huge. But it just doesn’t look right.”
Cruz has become one of the most popular players in the league for his salsa end zone dance, a starring role in a Super Bowl victory, his megawatt smile and Hollywood looks. He has so many endorsements he makes JJ Watt blush. But Giants fans are fed up with his “will he, won’t he” routine, having missed most of last season after tearing his knee, and being sidelined since the summer with a calf strain. The builidng frustration in Tom Coughlin’s updates on Cruz’s health suggests the team isn’t thrilled about it either.
But Cruz is a total NFL longshot – a kid who played at small-school UMass, then made the Giants as an undrafted free agent. His success story (being named 2nd team All-Pro and considered one of the most dangerous wideouts in the game for two seasons) almost never happens. Can we blame him for developing a golden parachute after this thrill ride ends?
Especially since Fournette would easily be the first runningback taken in this year’s draft even if he didn’t play another down. But he can’t. He won’t be eligible for the draft until the spring of 2017, meaning Fournette (who Herschel Walker says is alteady better than he was) has to take a million shots to his chest, knees, and ankles for free until then.
Fournette has said he has no plans on walking away from his teammates right now, and it seems impossible that a star college player would stage an 18-month contract hold-out until he got drafted. Ohio State’s Maurice Clarett challenged the system more than a decade ago. He lost, and says now he regrets engaging in that unwinnable battle. His career imploded before it began.
A few years ago, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore had a bright NFL future. But the running back shredded his knee in college, then never played a down as a pro. Should we expect Fournette to risk that dark possibility (when he’s already proven his worth to NFL scouts) just so we can be entertained?
In a perfect world Cruz would be healthy and have time for his endorsements and outside business interests. Fournette would stay healthy and monstrously productive for the next seasons. Each would succeed on the field, and earn what they deserve for that.
But when a player is more productive modeling a Hugo Boss suit than lining up in the slot, and a running back will risk career-threatening injury for the next two years before his first paycheck, things become a tad hazier.
Should Cruz get on the field and Fournette get off it? Or vice versa? The best advice: ignore the outside noise and just do you, whetever that solution is deep inside. But if you’re out again with a calf injury, try not to laugh too hard at Fallon’s jokes. It’s just doesn’t look right.
D.A. hosts 6-10pm ET on the CBS Sports Radio Network. He has hosted The D.A. Show (aka “The Mothership”) in Boston, Miami, Kansas City and Ft. Myers, FL. You can often catch him on the NFL Network’s series “Top 10.” D.A. graduated from Syracuse University in ’01, and began looking for ways to make a sports radio show into a quirky 1970’s sci-fi television series. Follow D.A. on Twitter and check out the show’s Facebook page. D.A. lives in NYC, and is a native of Warwick, NY.