Charles Barkley, on more than one occasion, has emphatically stated that athletes are not role models. I can still hear my Father’s own words to me about it being okay to admire what athletes do on the field, but not to try to emulate their lives away from the games that they play because, after all, they are only human and no different than the rest of us.
Victor Cruz’s burst onto the NFL scene last season captivated everyone with his dynamic receiving skills and slick salsa dancing. Giant fans everywhere embraced Cruz as he played a key role in leading the Giants to a Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. Among those enamored with Cruz’ play was 6 year old Jack Pinto. Jack loved the Giants, and it should be known that Victor Cruz was his hero. On December 14, Jack fell victim of a senseless and heinous act of violence that claimed his life, as well as the lives of 25 other people. On Monday he was laid to rest wearing the jersey of his favorite team and favorite player.
To honor Jack, Victor Cruz wrote his name on his cleats during last Sunday’s game in Atlanta. But that is not what makes Victor Cruz a role model. What makes him a role model is what he did this past Tuesday.