He’s posted three “campaign” videos on his Facebook page and is using the hastag #ProBowlCatch on Twitter to promote his candidacy. The videos feature him catching a football dropped from an airplane, shot out of a cannon and, in a video released Wednesday afternoon, outrunning and catching a football fired from a Jugs passing machine.
The airplane video had been viewed 866,498 times as of noon Tuesday on Facebook and has more than 574,000 YouTube views.
While the “catches” are fictionalized, Cruz told Playbook on Tuesday he’d be willing to try to catch a football tossed from an airplane for real -- if he had the chance.
“The force of gravity would be crazy but I’d give it a shot,” he said. The videos were created in partnership with Time Warner Cable and Cruz said several different scenarios were shot in effort to show that he “can catch anything.”
“We wanted to spice things up and get people get excited about the Pro Bowl,” he said.
Cruz surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving plateau for the second straight season (he has 1,004) with his eight-reception, 121-yard effort against the Saints on Sunday. “It was a huge goal for me to get 1,000 yards again this year," he said. "The key was to remain consistent.”
Cruz offers a compelling stump speech when asked why one should vote him to the NFC Pro Bowl team. And he delivers it without any video editing magic.
“I came from out of nowhere. I played this game with my heart and my soul. Every time I’m out there I’m laying it all out there for my team,” he said. “I feel like that’s what embodies a Pro Bowl player, not just the statistics and the touchdowns (he has nine TDs and 76 catches for a 13.2 yard average this season). When you see your best player -- your favorite player -- make the big plays and be passionate about his sport every time you see him play and it never wavers, that inspires everybody. And that’s a good reason to vote for me.”
Cruz acknowledges “stiff competition” on the ballot and cited Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones and Dez Bryant as his toughest opponents this year when it comes to earning votes. “Hopefully I can reach that top list," he said.
Cruz said his “dream was to become a Pro Bowl receiver” and chose to take full advantage of the opportunity to make it come true when balloting began online.
“I didn’t make it last year and I wanted to do everything possible to drive people to vote for me this time,” he said.
Cruz knows the honor of being a “Pro Bowl wide receiver” remains attached to his name for the rest of his career. “It brings your athletic status to a higher level and it allows you to be seen with the elite in your position,” he said.
It might also help in his contract negotiations. Cruz is a bargain at $540,000 this season and is set to become a restricted free agent. He was leading all NFC receivers in the most-recent voting results, released two weeks ago, and was 10th overall in the league. Voting ends on Monday and the Pro Bowl will be played on Jan. 27 in Honolulu.
Cruz supplements his NFL income with multiple commercial endorsements. He appeared in a new Foot Locker Approved commercial with teammate Hakeem Nicks that premiered Tuesday and was posted on YouTube. In the spot, Cruz offers Nicks some acting tips.
So what makes him such a competent thespian?
“I've done a few commercials and can look into a camera and teach some people a thing or two. It was fun to do a commercial with a teammate. We had a blast,” Cruz said. “He listened and took the criticism. He did a good job. He's a natural.”
He also has a sense of humor, as seen in this blooper reel featuring some not-so-fine moments from his various Time Warner Cable spots.
Even when he’s not running for Pro Bowl office, Cruz is very active on social media. “It’s a chance to interact with the fans," he said. "Giants fans are crazy about their team. When they get a chance to connect with one of their players, it’s an added bonus for them. That’s the biggest reason for me to make them connect and feel like they’re a part of the team and part of my life.”
His electoral base on social media is deep. Cruz has more than 388,000 subscribers to his Facebook page, more than 270,300 followers on Twitter (@TeamVic) and has posted 440 photos for his nearly 115,000 fans on Instagram (teamvic).
Negative feedback comes with the digital territory. “Giants fans are brutally honest,” he said. “When you’re doing good, they love you and praise you. If you have a dropped pass and dropped ball, you definitely get the negative comments. You try to ignore it and go past it. There’s always the next game to redeem yourself.”