Victor Cruz on How to Recover Stylishly From a Torn Patellar Tendon

The salsa-dancing wideout has made Fashion Week part of his off-season workout.

The L isn’t running on time. Ralph Lauren is incorporating American flags into his clothes. Victor Cruz is having a good time at Fashion Week. New Yorkers know these things. These things never change.

The only change this year for the Giants receiver is that he’s got to mind his leg. A torn tendon landed him on the bench this season before his team could make a second half charge. Is he looking to make a big comeback? Of course, this is Cruz – the guy has flash. But he’s also enjoying the moment and planning his wedding. He’ll keep busy.

MAXIM spoke to the end-zone dancer prior to the first fashion shows and got the scoop on his outlook.

Why should guys worry about style?

Style exemplifies who you are as a person. The way you dress shows what kind of person you are and how you want other people to see you. How you like to dress, how you smell, how you look portrays everything about you.

Isn’t that a little superficial?

Of course, 100 percent! But in this day and age of social media, everything is very superficial and very exterior-based, with what you wear, how you look, and then after that comes how good of a person you are. You just gotta conform, man. For a guy like myself who likes to get dressed, likes to look the part, it goes hand in hand with everything I embody.

How’d you get involved with Hugo Boss?

I felt their brand was matched with my brand, which is about being confident and having ‘success beyond the game.’

Give us your key to success.

Hard work really, really pays off. You hear the cliché. I was like, ‘Man, I’m an athlete. I’m good, I’ll get to college, I’ll whizz through, they’ll pass me along.’ But you got to put the work in on the field and especially in the classroom, and good things really do happen.

You’re engaged to your longtime girlfriend, Elaina Watley. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about women?

They love to be shown that you care, shown that you give a shit about the things they’re doing, how they look. They love compliments. It’s not so much the flowers or fancy restaurants. It’s, ‘Hey, you look good today.’ It took me some years to learn that, but once you learn it you’re good to go.

How are you doing with the leg?

I’m good. Obviously, I had an injury. I’ve been rehabbing. It’s 15 weeks post-surgery, and I’m feeling good. I’m getting my strength back in my knee, my thigh and right hamstring. Everything’s on the right path.

What were you thinking when you went down?

The first thing that flashed through my head was I knew my season was over, and the next was that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to help my teammates. Fighting those wars, being in those trenches together—there’s no one else out there. It’s truly a brotherhood out there, and that was the biggest thing I was going to miss.

How do you think it affected you mentally?

Right after surgery, I had a lot of time to reflect, and I was thinking, ‘I don’t have anything to hold back anymore. I want to give it my all. I’m gong to take care of myself and be stronger than ever. When I get back out there I’m going full-force, balls to the wall, and we’ll just see what happens.’ It’s crazy, the mindset of an athlete: Instead of making you more timid, an injury like that makes you think, ‘I’m gong to go out there and give it all I’ve got and leave it out there on the field.’ And whatever happens happens.

Photos by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP