New York Giants Pro Bowl wide receiver Victor Cruz landed in the hot seat over the weekend by making controversial remarks regarding George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin Saturday night by a jury in Sanford, Florida. The Patterson, New Jersey, native posted a Tweet that said “Thoroughly confused. Zimmerman doesn’t last a year before the hood catches up with him.” His remarks implied a violent reaction to Zimmerman after the not-guilty verdict in urban neighborhoods. Cruz later deleted the Tweet, but was bombarded by numerous negative comments by Zimmerman Supporters afterward.
Cruz, who is famously known for salsa dancing after scoring touchdowns in NFL games, didn’t back away from speaking about the comments, as he appeared on numerous sports talk shows Monday morning, including the national program Mike and Mike in the Morning on 98.7 ESPN New York and the local show Boomer and Carton on 660 WFAN, among others. Cruz also Tweeted some a statement that backed away from his original statement. “I never have and never will advocate violence under any circumstances and I pray that we all encourage and educate each other.”
On Mike and Mike, Cruz, who recently signed a five-year, $43 million deal with the New York Giants, said the following. “I took it back because I understand how things can be taken,” Cruz said on the radio. “There are a lot of children that follow me, a lot of kids that follow me, and I don’t want them to think I’m trying to incite violence on anyone. That’s not what I’m here for. That’s not what my intent was — or is — at all,” Cruz said when appearing on Mike and Mike via telephone. Cruz is on the right page when he talks about the need to “encourage and educate each other,” and hopefully that will be one of the byproducts of the tremendous amount of attention that the murder of Trayvon Martin in general, and the comments by Cruz in particular, has received.
What Cruz, and other athletes and entertainers need to learn is to think about their comments before they post them. A Tweet like this could potentially have negative implications with potential endorsement deals, something that his new agent, Roc Nation Sports, headed by hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, is seeking for all of his clients. Cruz is a successful author as well, and when I spoke to him recently at The 40/40 Club in New York City, he said he is planning a follow up to his debut literary work Out of the Blue. His comments could potentially have a negative impact on his ability to sell as many books. He seems to have learned his lesson, but when will athletes learn to keep their opinions to themselves about things of a high controversial nature? Cruz isn’t the first athlete to make comments that he later regretted, and he won’t be the last. Let’s hope that this incident in which Cruz responded in a passionate manner isn’t held against him in the future.