The Giants must’ve had a horrific flashback early Tuesday morning when gunshots rang out in a New York nightclub, with one of their own in the vicinity.
While the incident reportedly did not include anyone who represents Big Blue, or anyone associated with Victor Cruz’s party, one person was killed and two more people are in stable condition after the shooting at the trendy Juliet Supper Club — a popular hangout for local professional athletes.
The ascending wideout was celebrating his birthday along with a handful of other teammates, including Hakeem Nicks, Aaron Ross, Antrel Rolle and Chris Canty, when the shooting occurred in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Cruz, who has a daughter on the way, added he’ll stick to “going to barbecues and family get-togethers from now on” and that his clubbing days are over.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, who was visibly disappointed when the topic came up at his weekly Wednesday press conference, surely hopes so. Coughlin also said Cruz and his teammates didn’t violate any team rules. Monday night is a known party night for NFL players, as Tuesday is the league-wide off day for players. The only curfews enforced are during training camp and on nights before games, so no consequences should come of their hazardous evening.
“It’s his night,” Coughlin said when asked if he’d discipline Cruz. The coach added he had yet to talk to the others at the time of the press conference, but would do so. “I will talk to those guys, too.”
While he said his players broke no team rules — or laws — Coughlin expressed disappointment in his players being in the wrong place at the wrong time at such a late hour.
“The only one I heard about initially was Victor and thank God he wassafe,” Coughlin said. “I would speak to him as a parent would speak to their son. What happens good at 2:30, 3 in the morning? I’ve never been able to figure that one out … beyond that, it [their chat] is between he and I.”
Cruz said he just wanted to celebrate with his guests, hopefully incognito, but now knows his celebrity is quickly growing in this area. Cruz shook his head at his rising celebrity, as he was merely an afterthought at this time last year — simply a feel-good story of a local kid making it big. But with the season the Paterson, N.J. native is having, it’s getting harder to stay under the radar.
Tuesday’s incident was further proof that Cruz has arrived on the local sports — and social — scene. While there were other highly-recognizable celebrities at the club, including NBA draft pick Kemba Walker, it was Cruz’s name that led the headlines. The affable Cruz said he recognizes he’s no longer that unassuming football player — thanks to his flashy game and even flashier touchdown salsa dance celebration — and has to be more careful in how and where he spends his free time.
“I’m still kind of naïve to it sometimes. I go out and I think I’m this under-the-radar kind of guy and nobody knows me and things like that,” Cruz said. “But something like this happens and my name is brought up. I understand and it’s tough to deal with initially because you know you didn’t do anything wrong. But because you play for the Giants and because you’re a receiver [and have] been doing fairly well, my name will be brought up.”
Cruz then added it’s a lesson learned and he won’t ever put himself in the same situation again — and certainly nowhere near the level of infamy as a certain former gun-toting Big Blue wideout.
“I understand that’s the responsibility I chose and that comes with the territory,” Cruz said. “But as long as I don’t do anything boneheaded [like] start carrying guns or doing something crazy, I’ll be all right.”
Former Giants receiver — and current Jet — Plaxico Burress famously shot himself in a New York nightclub in 2008, essentially ending his career as a Giant and resulting in a two-year prison term for having an unregistered firearm. Burress, who was a Super Bowl hero in the season prior to the shooting, never donned a Giants uniform again and was just released from prison this past summer.
Coughlin said Burress’s incident and Cruz’s night are totally different and added he didn’t feel any déjà vu when first told of the incident. The difference between Burress’s act of carelessness and Cruz’s party was that Burress’s plight was self-induced, while Cruz was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, according to Coughlin.
Nicks, Rolle and Ross insisted they were not at the club when bullets started flying but Canty was. He said such a tragedy put things into perspective.
“The first thing that goes through your mind is get out safely; get home safely,” said Canty. “It’s an unfortunate tragedy. I hate that something like that is still happening, but it’s the reality of the world we live in.”
Giants dealing with injuries
Thankfully no Giants players were hurt in the shooting Tuesday night, but there still remains a few who are banged up as a result of their day jobs.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) and linebacker Michael Boley (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. Bradshaw is still not ready to return, while Boley is listed as day-to-day. Neither are expected to play this Sunday night against the Eagles.
Ross, who left the San Francisco game with a leg contusion, practiced. His protégé, rookie Prince Amukamara (foot), was still very limited in practice and still looks a ways away. Amukamara was seen doing individual work, but still looked gimpy and not yet ready for his debut.
The Giants will look to give more responsibility to strongside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka if Boley can’t go. Kiwanuka shifts from linebacker to his more familiar role of defensive end on obvious passing downs, but look for him to move to the MIKE (middle linebacker) position to fill that void. Of course if the Giants feel adventurous, they can rely on their rookie linebackers, including Greg Jones and Spencer Paysinger. But considering it was Jones who blew the coverage on the 49ers’ Vernon Davis’s fourth-quarter touchdown, that seems dicey.
Brandon Jacobs will get the start if Bradshaw misses the game, with D.J. Ware being the primary backup. While they have yet to give rookie Da’Rel Scott a real look, Coughlin gave his obligatory “we’ll see,” but added he’s been pleased with Scott’s development.
Big Blue notes
»Eagles quarterback Mike Vick(ribs) and wideout Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. Head coach Andy Reid said during his Wednesday conference call he’s still holding out hope that Vick can play this week, but that Vick is day-to-day and is not sure if he’ll split the first-team practice reps between Vince Young or Mike Kafka, or just have one guy be the main signal caller in Vick’s absence.
»Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy was re-instated this week after serving his four-game suspension for ingesting a banned substance. He said he was disappointed about the suspension because he thought he “had clearance” to use the banned product. While it’s against league policy to divulge the substance, Kennedy hinted it was a cold relief product.
Kennedy, a former Penn State star, expressed his thoughts on the whole Jerry Sandusky case. Kennedy admitted he was an intern for Sandusky’s “Second Mile” program that helped and supported underprivileged children, but added he “never” saw any signs of the abuse Sandusky is accused of. He then shook his head solemnly and called the situation “heartbreaking.”
» Mathias Kiwanuka said when he heard of the shooting incident he immediately thought he “had teammates there.” He clarified that he didn’t think a teammate would be involved with the shooting, but the percentages were great that a teammate was there because the Supper Club is such a trendy and popular place amongst athletes. Kiwanuka, who was on the Giants through the whole Burress ordeal, said he had no doubt that Cruz wasn’t involved: “I know he’s [Cruz] not a knucklehead.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.