Burberry trench coat, $1,750, bloomingdales.com. Calvin Klein Collection suit, $1,395, 64 Madison Ave.

Uniqlo V-neck tee, $12.90, uniqlo.com. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver watch, $18,900, 65 E. 57th St. David Yurman necklaces, chain bracelets and ring, prices upon request, davidyurman.com.

GroominG by anna webber for vapour orGanic beauty. set desiGn by eyal baruch at anderson hopkins.

Victor Cruz helped score the championship title for the Giants. Now the salsa-dancing wide receiver is aiming to win Best Dressed.
By kirsten fleming - PhotograPhy By kareem Black

Brioni silk sport coat, $4,500, brioni.com. Nike windbreaker, $49, nike.com. Billy Reid Halstead pants, $265, 54 Bond St. Alexander Olch pocket rounds, $55, Barneys. Versace Medusa necklace, $895, and ring, $275, and gold Krios watch, $1,650, 888-721-7219. Jay Kos socks, $45, jaykos.com. Mark McNairy New Amsterdam shoes,$395, markmcnairy. com. hook+Albert shoelaces, $14, hookandalbert.com.

It’s been barely a month since the underdog New York Giants stunned the sports world by defeating the New England Patriots, taking home a Lombardi Trophy along with Super Bowl XLVI bragging rights. Clad in camouflage cargos inside a Chelsea photo studio is Big Blue’s unlikely hero in this unbelievable romp, Victor Cruz. “This time last year, I was watching the Super Bowl with Green Bay [and Pittsburgh] and upset that we didn’t even make the playoffs,” says the 25-year-old wide receiver, who sat out most of last season with a hamstring pull. “The only people calling me was maybe my mom and girlfriend,” he says. Flash forward 12 months, and Cruz has catapulted from an undrafted and unknown player to a salsa-dancing scoring sensation with a Super Bowl ring in the mail. “And now,” he says, pausing to look down and humbly trying to stifle the smile that’s spreading across his boyishly handsome face, “now, everybody and their mother calls my phone, so it’s just a blessing, man. Although I might have to change my phone number soon,” he says, breaking out into a hearty laugh. Today, his longtime girlfriend and publicist, Elaina Watley, has received more than 25 voice mails and 48 texts by 4 p.m., most of them requests for her client, boyfriend of nine years and father of their new daughter, 2-month-old Kennedy. “Strange enough, my other clients were stars before him. Now he’s the biggest star on my roster,” Watley says. Even his best friend, Nate Collins, a defensive tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars, is clogging his inbox asking for autographs. “I text him randomly and ask if I can get an autograph,” says Collins, his voice brimming with pride. “Anytime he calls, I say, ‘What’s up, Hollywood Cruz?’ ” It’s official. The quiet life Cruz once knew is now a distant memory. In the past few weeks he has turned down Dancing with the Stars, shown off his trademark salsa moves at the Grammys and inked a memoir deal with an advance worth an estimated $400,000. He even left hip-hop star Flavor Flav speechless at the ticker tape parade for the Giants in February. “He jumped up on the float. I was almost scared. He ran up, shook my hand and just kept saying ‘wow’ over and over again,” says Cruz, doing a spot-on impression of the kooky rapper.
00 nypost.com/pagesixmag

“it’s kinDa my style— how
Kanye goes out on the edge and does what he wants.”

But it isn’t just the sports and music worlds that have been feeling Cruz’s mojo. He cut the ribbon to kick off New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Center in February, and shortly after received a personal invite from Vogue editrix Anna Wintour to attend the prestigious Met Gala, appropriately referred to by some as the Super Bowl of fashion. While Cruz unabashedly admits he didn’t know what the Met Gala was, Watley confesses it’s been on her bucket list and hopes Tom Ford might consider dressing the duo for the event. “She almost jumped out of her skin when she got the e-mail, but I’m excited for her,” Cruz laughs. Now the wide receiver—whose only foray into fashion up until this point was starting a Tshirt company, Young Whales, with pal Collins and rockin’ Jordans no matter the ensemble or destination—is trying to navigate the world of high style. Will Welch, a senior editor at GQ, was easily charmed by the football star at the Tommy Hilfiger show. “The guy’s at his first-ever fashion show and he looked totally like himself in jeans, a Tommy camo, boots and a striped sweater. He has a winning smile, but he also comes off as genuine,” Welch says. “He’s confident and humble without being meek or shy.” The question is, what else could Mr. Personality wear with that smile? Since Cruz is now actively looking for some style advice, Page Six Magazine connected the athlete with stylist to the sports stars Rachel Johnson, who is responsible for turning NBA’s biggest ballers, LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire, into kings of the fashion court. “It was a dream to work with Victor,” says Johnson, who calls herself a huge Giants fan. “My mantra is that if a man can’t wear something with confidence, he can’t wear it. He said no to a few things, but I encouraged him to try them anyway. I told him that sometimes you see them on the hanger and they may not translate. But he automatically put them on and said, ‘I never would have imagined they’d look like that on!’ ” Cruz describes his personal style as high end meets urban à la Jay-Z and Kanye, his two style icons. “It’s my kinda style—how Kanye goes out on the edge and does what he wants,” he says. While sifting through racks of fancy and colorful duds, Cruz remarks how his late father—“a fashionable dude”—would’ve approved of a pair of pink Tommy Hilfiger chinos.

ferraGamo prince of wales blazer, $3,200, at ferraGamo stores; versace shirt, $1,295, 888-721-7219; tommy hilfiGer chinos, $98, 681 fifth ave.; ralph lauren purple label tie, $185, ralphlauren.com; david yurman waves tie bar, price upon request, davidyurman.com; lacoste socks, $12, lacoste.com; tommy hilfiGer x G.h. bass and co. penny loafers, $129.99, 681 fifth ave.

“this is probably
the craziest blazer I’ve ever seen.”

00 nypost.com/pagesixmag

middle: calvin klein collection nylon mesh bonded laser cut blazer, $2,995, and tank, $250, 64 madison ave.; ralph lauren black label vest, $750, bloominGdales.com; simon spurr worn-in white jeans, $450, bloominGdales.com; nike sneakers, cruz’s own; necklaces, cruz’s own. bottom: brent smith/reuters.

“I love the pink pants and the suit vibe and how the red socks kind of throw it off—in a good way. It was a different look for me. I think I pulled it off, too!” he boasts. Trying on a white Calvin Klein collection blazer in a fabric reminiscent of subway tiles, Cruz says, “This is probably the craziest blazer I’ve ever seen. It’s so fun.” But it isn’t until he changes into a retro powder blue suit paired with matching creeper platform shoes that the six-foot Cruz grows both physically and emotionally. “I’m six-two now,” he says, looking down and smiling. “This feels good.” He also dug his digs for the Grammys, a slick tailored Tommy Hilfiger suit and white shoes, a pairing chosen by the designer himself. “That was my inner Puerto Rican side coming out,” muses Cruz, whose mother is from the island. Cruz grew up in rough-andtumble Paterson, New Jersey. His fireman father, Mike Walker, and his mother, Blanca Cruz, never married, but both pushed him to succeed on and off the field. (His father died in an apparent suicide in 2007.) As a star receiver at the now shuttered Paterson Catholic, Cruz dreamed of earning a scholarship to Rutgers and eventually being drafted into the NFL. “He had skills that weren’t normal for a kid his size. He was only five-nine in the 10th grade, and he Top: Stylist Rachel was in the gym dunking the bas- Johnson dresses Cruz. Bottom: The wide reketball. You knew he was an above- ceiver salsas in the end average athlete,” says his high zone during the Super Bowl wearing his usual school coach, Benjie Wimberly. garb: a Giants uniform. Cruz never made it to Rutgers, landing instead at the University of Massachusetts, where he was dogged by academic problems. His former coach, however, always saw something special in the jock. “The one thing that kid always had was charisma,” Wimberly says. Despite his underwhelming college career, he did make it to his dream job when the Giants picked him up as a free agent in the 2010 draft. “You couldn’t have written a better book,” says Wimberly, who traveled to the Super Bowl to cheer on his prized player. (He revealed that Cruz’s wish was to feel the confetti coming down on his head.) “It’s almost…Disney-like.” He showed flashes of brilliance in the preseason, scor-

ing three touchdowns against the Jets. But Cruz wrecked his hamstring after the third game and sat out the rest of the season. Then the lockout happened, ceasing all league activity and leaving Cruz spinning his wheels in New Jersey. It was during that time, however, that Giants quarterback Eli Manning called and asked Cruz to help warm up his arm during a game of catch at Hoboken High School. Pictures of the two caused a media frenzy. “I think that was big for us and our rapport,” says Cruz, who describes his teammate as “sarcastic and funny.” Cruz may have been anointed by Manning, but he was still far down the food chain. That is, until a spate of injuries hit the G-Men. “Every week it seemed like receivers were dropping like flies,” recalls Collins. “I told him, when you get your chance, don’t be afraid to be a star. And he said to me, ‘If Eli throws me the ball, I’m catching it.’ ” And catch it he did. Cruz scored two touchdowns against Philadelphia in the third game of the season, and his signature salsa dance, which started as a tribute to his grandmother, was born. But perhaps Cruz’s biggest victory this year came on January 9, when Watley gave birth to their baby girl. When asked which was more exciting to hold, the Lombardi trophy or his daughter, Cruz doesn’t hesitate. “I gotta go with Kennedy because she came from me. Kennedy is my pride and joy. When Elaina was pregnant and I knew she was on the way, it kind of gave me another sense of motivation to go out there and play my heart out,” says Cruz. And by all accounts, Cruz is already an amazing dad— “from changing diapers to feeding her at 5 a.m. because I have to send out a press release,” Watley boasts. And although the $450,000-per-year earner (small change considering he finished third in the league in reception yards) declines to comment on his expectations for a raise, there is one thing he looks forward to splurging on: “My mother’s house. It’s time that I buy her a house.” Despite all the fanfare, Cruz swears his feet, however flashy his shoes become, will remain firmly planted on the field. “The way I came up was for a reason,” he says. “A lesson in how to remain humble and hungry.”

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