NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) points to the sky before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Giants released Victor Cruz on Monday, they didn’t lose a top-tier wide receiver — they lost a top-tier human being. 

On Monday, the New York Giants cut wide receiver Victor Cruz, putting an end to the fairytale story that began back in 2010.

The move in and of itself wasn’t a shock. Cruz never fully recovered from his patellar tendon tear, an injury that happened in Week 6 of the 2014 season. Sterling Shepard emerged as the better option in the slot, which forced the vet to play on the outside for the duration of 2016. With the move, the Giants will save $7.5 million in salary cap space, which will bode well for the organization’s efforts to re-sign a player like Jason Pierre-Paul.

The Giants aren’t going to miss his 39 receptions, 586 yards and one touchdown from this past season. They’re not going to miss his diminished talents. They’re not going to miss what he provided inside of the white lines.

But the Giants will miss Cruz. They’ll miss everything he brought to the organization off of the gridiron.

They’ll miss the Cinderella story that was Cruz’s career. Undrafted out of UMass back in 2010, the wideout burst onto the scene with a show-stealing preseason performance against the New York Jets. After spending his rookie season on the sidelines, Cruz became a household name in 2011 and never looked back. He finishes his Giants career with 303 receptions, 4,549 receiving yards, 25 touchdowns, a second team All-Pro nomination, and as the top offensive option on the Super Bowl winner.

The Giants will miss his leadership. Cruz was an official captain for only one season but was seen as a man to look up to throughout his entire tenure in New York. His work ethic to become great was something that his teammates, opponents, and amateur players all looked up to and respected. Cruz’s desire to be a number one wide receiver rubbed off on everyone he came across.

The organization will also miss Cruz’s contributions to the community. The Giants are known as a first-class franchise, and he embodied that to a tee. He became known for his support and tributes to the fallen children in the Sandy Hook tragedy. He supported the Boys and Girls Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities, as well as starting his own cause known as the Victor Cruz Foundation.

Victor Cruz the player — the short in stature yet large in heart receiver who wowed MetLife Stadium on a weekly basis — will be remembered. But once the season begins, it will be the Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard show.

But Victor Cruz the man — the local kid who scratched and clawed his way to the top and has given back to the community tenfold — should be his lasting legacy as a member of the New York Football Giants.

Besides writing for Elite Sports New York as Managing Editor, Dan Federico a Featured Writer for Bleacher Report and an Editor and Contributor for The Sportster. Based just outside of New York City, Dan is an avid fan of all things New York sports and professional wrestling. Dan Federico is a senior writer for Elite Sports NY. You can interact with him on Twitter or contact him via email.