With every visit to the end zone on the road or at home, New York Giant Victor Cruz goes back in time and reminisces of the days when his grandmother would dance with him to the tropical, Caribbean rhythms of salsa and merengue.
Last weekend against Miami, after shrugging off and evading Dolphins defensive back Will Allen's attempt to tackle him, Cruz once again celebrated a touchdown by dropping the ball in the end zone and just dancing.
"My grandmother, when I was growing up, you know how they would always put that music on during the weekends, she would grab me up and we would start dancing," the Paterson, N.J.-born Cruz told Fox News Latino on Friday before the Giants headed to play the New England Patriots.
"We used to always get down. Somebody brought it up to me that I should do some of that in the end zone."
The Giants should expect more and more from their rising star receiver, who has settled into the lineup after Domenik Hixon went down in week two with a torn ACL.
Cruz, who started the season at the bottom of the depth chart, took advantage of the extra playing time the following week, with a pair of touchdowns, three catches and 110 yards in a come-from-behind victory against Philadelphia.
The Puerto Rican-American receiver followed that up with six catches for 98 yards at Arizona and then had a career-high eight catch, 161 yard, one touchdown game at home against Seattle.
And with his mother’s favorite salsa singer Frankie Ruiz in mind, he continues to dance.
Cruz has parlayed his opportunity, becoming the team's leading receiver and Eli Manning's favorite target halfway through the season.
"It's been exciting. It's been a rollercoaster. It feels good to be a factor on this team. Just to be somebody that Eli [Manning] can look to make plays and make some things happen," said Cruz. "I'm excited for the opportunity. I'm glad I've been making the best of it."
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst grad joined the Giants as a rookie free agent after being bypassed by every team in the 2010 NFL Draf.Cruz said that the backing of his family him never lose faith in making it to the pros.
"It was tough. Obviously being a guy watching the draft and looking at it and seeing all those guys go and just hopefully you could get a phone call after the draft or be surprised or get picked or something like that," Cruz said. "It was tough but you know I had a good supporting cast. My mom was really helpful."
He took full advantage of the opportunity when the Giants came calling.
Cruz caught the eyes of the football world during a Monday night preseason game last year against the Jets in which he hauled in three touchdown catches. Unfortunately his season was cut short after only appearing in three games due to a hamstring injury.
Yet for all the short success he's achieved so far, Cruz credits all of it to his mother who steered him right and kept him focused after the death of his father in 2007.
"She was just the strongest woman I've met. She always kept me level headed and taught me the right things to do and to stay focused," Cruz said.
"She was sacrificing things for me that no other person would do. I always give her all the credit. Without her I don't think I would be here right now," he added.
The way the Giants have been playing, leading the NFC East despite a number of injuries, this proud mother could very likely see her son salsa his way to the Super Bowl.
Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc.
Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc