- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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When scoring touchdowns, Cruz not only did his trademark salsa dance but he also started flashing the Roc hand sign (using both hands to form a diamond) last season. The wide receiver politely said he couldn't talk about it whenever asked, but a source said during the season Cruz was indeed going to eventually be a part of some sort of partnership with Jay-Z, who's latest sports venture is Roc Nation Sports. Cruz flashing the Roc sign was his way of letting people know he was down with the Roc family and Jay-Z.
While the only thing that has been made official thus far is Cruz joining Creative Artists Agency (CAA), ESPN's Adam Schefter has confirmed media reports that Cruz will be a part of the new Roc Nation/CAA venture. Cruz recently hired CAA's Tom Condon to represent him and the expectation is that Condon will negotiate his contract with the Giants. Darren Rovell, ESPN's sports business reporter, tweeted that Jay-Z has a preliminary agent certification for Major League Baseball but he currently doesn't have certification for football.
"He’d have to get that before working w/Cruz," Rovell tweeted.
My guess is that Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by Shawn Carter, will help Cruz with his off-the-field interests and help him become even more visible. Cruz, who signed with IMG last year to handle marketing and endorsements, is one of the most popular athletes in New York. His growing portfolio should only ascend under the Roc Nation Sports umbrella. Cruz already is a spokesperson for Nike, Campbell's Chunky soup and Time Warner Cable. He has strong interests in fashion and music, so it makes all the sense in the world to eventually side with a man who has made millions in those two areas. Cruz also has a clothing line, Young Whales, with a partner.
As far as the contract goes, Condon will likely handle that. He has a good relationship with the Giants and represents Eli Manning, Mathias Kiwanuka and Mark Herzlich. Team ownership is hopeful Condon's presence will help the two sides strike a deal at some point to keep the salsa-dancing receiver around for a long time in blue.
At the moment, Cruz is a restricted free agent and teams have until April 19 to make a contract offer, although the odds are against that since any team wanting to sign Cruz to an offer will also have to surrender a first-round pick if the Giants don't match. So the likelihood is Cruz will remain a Giant this season for at least his one-year tender and the two sides can continue to negotiate a long-term deal.
It's in everybody's best interest, including Jay-Z's, to keep the Puerto Rican receiver in the metropolitan area. Cruz is loved here, has something special going on with the Giants and is more marketable here than anywhere else.
1dBy Dan Graziano