BROOKLYN — Typically at celebrity charity sporting events, the atmosphere is pretty positive where athletes are cheered for their work in communities. That wasn’t the case for Josh Norman in Brooklyn on Thursday night.
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz says that’s what the Washington Redskins’ newly-recruited cornerback should expect when he visits the Big Apple.
“He knew that coming into New York that he’s not going to get the love that he thought he would [at a charity game],” Cruz told NBC Sports.
Norman got a loud chorus of boos ringing through the Barclays Center when he was announced in attendance for the Roc Nation charity basketball game by emcee Angie Martinez. Martinez pleaded with the fans in the stadium to show some support, saying “C’mon folks, it’s for charity,” but the jeers only got louder.
The 28-year-old, who signed a five-year, $75-million deal with the Redskins this summer, has a simmering rivalry forming with Cruz’s teammate Odell Beckham Jr. which reared itself publicly again after some recent comments. Cruz, who is raring to go after nearly two seasons on the sideline, says that he’s excited to now be involved in the rivalry himself.
“It’s going to be fun playing him twice a year,” he said with a slight grin.
As for Cruz’s recovery, the 29-year-old who inspired the Giants to a Super Bowl win in 2012 is aiming to prove that he’s back to full fitness.
“I’m extremely excited to [get the season started]. I’m excited to just be out there, having a presence, running routes again…It’s great to feel like an athlete again,” he said.
While some have suggested that the odds are against Cruz in his road to recovery, he insists that he can help get the Giants back to their best.
“Feeling good, I’m running around and I’m at 100 percent…I just want to get into camp and put everything behind me and be positive,” Cruz said. “[I help bring] that leadership, the plays that I make every week. Being able to make a difference, not only for myself but for my teammates as well.”
When asked specifically about the Giants playoff chances, he confidently replied, “Absolutely, [the Giants can make playoffs].”
Giants fans will hope that both Cruz and the Giants can get back on track after years of struggling.