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Cruz emotional after meeting with slain child's family

Victor Cruz pays tribute to Jack Pinto with a message on his shoes Sunday. The Sandy Hook 6-year-old was buried Monday.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Victor Cruz pays tribute to Jack Pinto with a message on his shoes Sunday. The Sandy Hook 6-year-old was buried Monday.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — For much of his hour-long visit with the family of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Connecticut school shootings, Victor Cruz talked about football, life and Jack, the child who idolized him.

Tears were shed. Feelings were shared. Cleats and gloves worn by Cruz to honor Jack Pinto at Sunday's game against Atlanta were given to his family.

The Giants wide receiver somberly recounted Wednesday his meeting with Pinto's parents and brother in Newtown, Conn.

He struggled in his retelling only when asked about the family's decision to bury the child in the receiver's No. 80 jersey. The father of an infant girl, Cruz stopped for a moment, and his eyes became watery.

"You never go through some circumstances like this and circumstances where a kid faces or a family faces something of this magnitude at their school," Cruz said. "This definitely was the toughest by far."

Jack Pinto was buried Monday, and Cruz telephoned the family to ask whether he could visit Tuesday.

The family disclosed after Friday's massacre that Cruz was Jack's favorite player. The boy was one of 20 first-graders and six adults killed in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Cruz, 26, drove to Newtown with girlfriend Elaina Watley and their daughter, Kennedy. He said he didn't know how he would be received until he saw the family outside the home with some local children.

"They were still pretty emotional, crying and stuff like that," Cruz said. "I saw how affected they were by just my presence alone."

TEBOW DISAPPOINTED: Jets coach Rex Ryan's decision to start quarterback Greg McElroy over Tim Tebow to replace the struggling Mark Sanchez didn't sit well with Tebow. "All you can ask for and all you want is a chance," the former Heisman winner at Florida said.

PAGANO'S RETURN: The Colts hope coach Chuck Pagano, who has been undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia, will return to the sideline for the Dec. 30 regular-season finale.

DOLPHINS: Backup running back Daniel Thomas went on injured reserve with a knee injury.

EAGLES: LeSean McCoy will start at running back after missing four games with a concussion. Michael Vick, also out with a concussion, will serve as third-string quarterback.

49ERS: All-Pro defensive tackle Justin Smith should play Sunday after he suffered an arm injury last week.

LIONS: Defensive tackle Nick Fairley went on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

REDSKINS: Quarterback Robert Griffin III took part in his first full practice since spraining his right knee and could be cleared today to return.

STEELERS: Running back Rashard Mendenhall returned to practice after serving a one-game suspension for deciding not to show up for the Dec. 9 game with the Chargers. And quarterback Ben Roethlisberger apologized to offensive coordinator Todd Haley for criticizing his game plan after Sunday's loss to Dallas.

TEXANS: Linebacker Brooks Reed, out three games with a groin injury, returned to practice and said he expects to play Sunday.

Cruz emotional after meeting with slain child's family 12/19/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 10:11pm]
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