Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Long Road near an End

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Long Road near an End

Article excerpt

ARLINGTON, Texas - Standing in a crowd outside the idling ambulance in the basement of Lincoln Financial Field, Briana Thevenin remembers the tears, the anxiety and, most of all, the calming handshake that fateful October night nearly two years ago.

She'd come to Philadelphia to watch close friend Victor Cruz and the Giants play the Eagles in a prime-time NFC East showdown, and now was waiting for him to get wheeled out of the locker room on a stretcher.

"Don't worry about me," Cruz told Thevenin, who gathered along with his panicked family and friends, concern washing over all. "See you at home. I'll be back."

That emotional journey Cruz vowed he would complete - the road longer and far more winding than expected -- reaches its culmination 700 days later.

Today inside AT&T Stadium, the Paterson native and former Pro Bowl wide receiver will take the field for the Giants and play in his first regular-season game since rupturing the patellar tendon in his right knee.

His career threatened, his psyche tested like never before, Cruz persevered and kept his promise to those closest to him who were there that Oct. 12, 2014 night.

"That whole scene was straight out of a bad movie," Thevenin recalled in a phone interview earlier this week. "When Vic went down, that just sucked the air right out of the stadium. Immediately it was a scramble to get downstairs, and by the time we got by the locker room doors, the doctors had already seen him, they already described what happened, and he was on his way into the ambulance to go to the hospital.

"He made sure to stop, we have this handshake we have done since college and we did that. The injury wasn't going to take his spirit."

The dream of having Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. on the field at the same time was dashed in the middle of their seventh quarter together against the Eagles when the former went down in the end zone clutching his knee. …

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