Throughout the recent years, the New York Giants organization has fallen victim of the WR curse. Odell Beckham Jr. is the most recent.Unfortunately for Jerry Reese and the New York Giants, most of these receivers sustained significant injuries and were either lost for the season or were never the same player they were prior to their injury.
Odell Beckham Jr. is the latest of the star receiver Reese has acquired to go down with a serious injury.
Hopefully, OBJ’s fractured ankle won’t derail his career as injuries have done to other Giants receivers over the past decade.
Here’s a look at star receivers who were acquired by Reese that have had their once-promising careers derailed by injuries.
1. Steve Smith
Smith was the first receivers Reese drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft (51st overall).
Injuries limited Smith to just eight receptions in his rookie season, but he made big plays in the playoffs, especially in Super Bowl XLII. Three plays after David Tyree’s helmet catch, the Giants were facing a 3rd-and-11 from the Patriots 25-yard line. Eli Manning connected with Smith on a 12-yard completion for perhaps the most under-the-radar big play of the season.
On the next play, Manning connected with Plaxico Burress for the game-winning touchdown.
After a modest second season where he caught 57 passes for 574 yards, Smith had one of the best seasons a Giants receiver ever had.
In 2009, Smith set a franchise record with 107 receptions for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns and earned a trip to a Pro Bowl. He seemed to be on his way to being one of the best slot receivers in the league.
But on Dec. 13, 2010, he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the Giants 21-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time as Smith was to be a free agent at the end of the season, and was looking to cash in on a big contract.
Smith was never the same player following the injury. He played with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 and the St. Louis Rams in 2012 where he caught a combined 25 passes. Smith would announce his retirement from the NFL in May of 2013.
2. Hakeem Nicks
Reese drafted Hakeem Nicks in the first round of the 2009 draft (29th overall) out of North Carolina.
Nicks appeared in 14 games as a rookie and caught 47 passes for 790 yards and six touchdowns. During that season, he had s stretch where he scored a touchdown in four consecutive games.
In his second season he had a breakout season catching 79 passes for 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns. He did miss the season finale against the Washington Redskins.
In 2011, Nicks had 76 receptions for a career-high 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns. But his best performance came in the postseason.
In the Giants four playoff games he had 28 receptions for 444 yards and four touchdowns. Next to Eli Manning, Nicks was the Giants best player during their Super Bowl run.
Nicks picked up where he left off in the start of 2012 as he had 10 receptions for 199 yards and a touchdown in the Giants week two 41-34 victory over the Tampa Buccaneers. But in that same game he suffered a foot and knee injury that would keep him out the next three weeks.
He was never the same after that as he finished the season with 53 receptions for 692 yards and just three touchdowns.
From that point on Nicks was never able to regain his quickness. Although he played in 15 games in 2013, he failed to score a touchdown and the Giants did not offer him a new contract.
After playing the 2014 season with the Colts, the Giants signed Nicks in the middle of the 2015 season to a one year deal where he appeared in six games and had seven receptions for just 54 yards.
Nicks signed a one year deal with New Orleans Saints in July of 2016, but they released him a month later. Since then no team has shown interest in Nicks. Six years ago he was one of the best receivers in the league. Now at just 29-years-old, his career seems to be over.
Cruz went undrafted in the 2010 draft but Reese would sign him the following day.
He came onto the scene in the Giants preseason game against the Jets where he scored three touchdowns. His performance even caught the attention of LeBron James who tweeted about Cruz after the game. Cruz would appear in the first three games of the season, but then a hamstring injury would end his season.
After seeing limited action in the Giants first two games of the 2011 season, Cruz enjoyed a breakout game in the Giants week 3 29-16 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. In that game, he caught three passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. After his first touchdown, he did his first of many salsa dances.
He led the Giants that season with 82 receptions for a franchise single season record 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns and was named second team NFL All-Pro by the associated press.
He would catch 21 more passes in the postseason and scored a touchdown in the Giants 21-17 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
The next season Cruz had 86 receptions for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns and was named to the Pro Bowl. Following the season he would sign a five year 45.879 million dollar contract extension.
In 2013 he appeared in 14 games where he had 73 receptions for 998 yards and four touchdowns.
Cruz had started off the 2014 season well catching 23 passes for 337 yards and a touchdown, but in the Giants week six 27-0 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles he was lost for the season after suffering a torn patellar tendon.
He rehabbed vigorously and hoped to return to full strength in 2015, but he suffered a calf injury early in training camp. The calf injury never healed and he had surgery in November and was put on IR.
After not playing in a NFL game in 23 months, Cruz scored the game winning touchdown in the Giants 20-19 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener. Sadly that would be the last high moment for Cruz.
He was clearly not the same player he once was and was unable to get separation from defenders. He finished the year with 39 receptions for 586 yards and was released by the Giants following the season.
Since then he signed a one year deal with the Bears but was released prior to the season opener.
Recently he said he can 100 percent help the Giants in wake of them losing three receivers for the year. But at this point, the Giants have not shown interest.
It seems unfathomable that Smith, Nicks, and Cruz could all have suffered the same fate but they have. All three are young enough to still be playing in the NFL, and if not for injuries they all still could be with the Giants.
It just goes to show that the NFL does stand for “Not For Long.”
The Giants and their fans must now hope that Odell Beckham Jr., doesn’t suffer the same fate as these three, and can return to his All-Pro self. OBJ was the quickest receiver in NFL history to reach 300 receptions.
Now everyone hopes he can recover from his fractured ankle just as quickly and end the injury curse that has plagued Giants receivers.