Giants WR Victor Cruz needs to shrug off salsa dancing imitators…

Giants WR Victor Cruz is now fighting off imitators (Associated Press)

The Giants and the 49ers play this week, another installment of what has historically been a great rivalry. In my weekly ranking of the games, I put this showdown as No. 2. The storylines, literally, are endless.

But one thing that I take issue with revolves around Giants star WR Victor Cruz and his salsa-dancing ways. See, 49ers DB Carlos Rogers had said he likes Cruz’s signature dance, but that he would imitate it after a big play. And Cruz responded that he wouldn’t like that one bit. He got pretty fired up.

Later, when Rogers found out that Cruz’s dance is an homage to his late grandmother, he backed off. That’s cool.  I love how Cruz honors the woman who influenced his life after each touchdown, making every TD special. That’s really everyone’s dream — to constantly show those who are meaningful to you just how meaningful, and to tell the world.

But there is another side to this. Actually, two points I can’t wrap my head around. They are…

1. Cruz does a very popular, supremely hyped touchdown celebration that everyone loves. So much so, that networks have played salsa music while he scores, just to give him a little soundtrack. He has received marketing opportunities and widespread fame because of his play… but also because of his salsa dancing. So, don’t be offended if someone takes offense or is insulted. Shrug it off if someone wants to imitate. That’s the sincerest form of flattery — if someone thinks so highly of your play (and your dance) that they want to celebrate when they make a play on you. That’s what you want, for other teams to be pumped to try to shut you down.

One thing you really hope for in the NFL is to be a player teams game-plan for. That means you’re so good that you’ll either change a game or lead to teammates changing a game. Don’t be upset if an opponent wants to steal your dance if they actually succeed. All it means is you are important enough of a player to have a dance people steal.

2. I know the dance is an homage to a special lady. As I’ve said, that’s pretty awesome. All respect there. But, regardless of the reason, it’s still a dance. At its core, it’s a dance in someone’s endzone. It’s a humiliating thing for an opponent, don’t forget that. You scored on them, and now you are dancing in their endzone. You are putting yourself out there by doing it. The actual reason behind it is noteworthy and touching, but it doesn’t completely take away from the fact that it is showboating in front of an opponent. If it was the Lambeau Leap, the Icky Shuffle, the Dirty Bird, whatever, it’s still a dance.

And if Cruz is going to put himself out there and taunt another team after a score, at its weakest point, my opinion is that he needs to understand opponents will give it back. Don’t just say, I’m gonna dance in your endzone, but I’ll be offended if you do it back. That’s not reality. If you put yourself out there like that, be ready to get it back.

Bottom-line? If opponents want to steal your dance, embrace it.

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