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Cruz named George Young Good Guy

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz smiles

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz smiles from the bench during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against New York Jets. (Dec. 24, 2011) Credit: AP

Victor Cruz was not named to the Pro Bowl roster, but this should quell his disappointment.

The Paterson product was named the recipient of the 2011 George Young Good Guy Award, as voted on by the Giants' chapter of the Professional Football Writers of America. He’s the 11th recipient of the award, and the first wide receiver to win it since … Plaxico Burress.

So what makes Cruz so special? Well, he’s at his locker and available every day, he has something interesting to say on almost every topic, he’s honest, he’s genuine, he’s humble when he needs to be and brash when he needs to be. Think about this: How many guys would have had a shootout at their birthday party in a Manhattan night club and then been available to talk about it the next day. Just about every NFL guy I’ve known would have spent that day in the trainer’s room ducking the media. Not Cruz.

Oh, it also helps that he’s blossomed into a pretty good player. That was one of the things that made Dave Tollefson a close second in the voting. Tollefson has always been an affable player and a great quote, but his role on the team was always limited. This year he became a go-to guy for the media and it was appreciated.

Antrel Rolle came in third place in the voting. I’ll tell you that those were the three players on my ballot. Cruz did not get my first-place vote. Perhaps a few Young Whales T-shirts in my direction would have helped.

A couple of guys who were not honored need to be thanked as well for their availability and professionalism with the media: Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard, Deon Grant, Jake Ballard and Michael Boley. I should also mention Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka in that group, but as past winners they were ineligible for this year’s award. Cruz will be ineligible for the rest of his career.

Here’s a list of previous winners, by the way.

2010 -- DT Barry Cofield
2009 -- DE Mathias Kiwanuka
2008 -- QB Eli Manning
2007 -- DE Justin Tuck
2006 – WR Plaxico Burress
2005 -- RB Tiki Barber
2004 -- QB Kurt Warner
2003 -- WR Ike Hilliard
2002 -- QB Kerry Collins
2001 -- OL Lomas Brown

The award, named for the late general manager of the Giants, is given annually to honor a Giants player for his consistent and outstanding cooperation with the writers who cover the team on a daily basis.

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