It's an end in one way for Giants running back David Wilson, and it's not the story he wanted told, but Wilson will walk away from the game whole and intact. However, he'll have to walk away at age 23. According to a statement released by the team, Wilson has been advised by two doctors to no longer play football.
Wilson, the Giants' first-round pick in 2012 out of Virginia Tech, suffered a "burner" last week in practice, causing numbness in his hands and lower extremities. It was similar to the injury he suffered last season during a game against the Eagles on Oct. 6. Team physician Dr. Russell Warren and Dr. Frank Cammisa, the chief of spine service for Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), ran the tests that indicated a severe risk for Wilson should he continue to play.
"David has diffuse cervical stenosis," Dr. Warren said. "He had a disc removed and a fusion in January. In light of last week’s episode of symptoms, sensory and motor, Frank and I both told David he should not play football anymore. We let David know that by playing, he would be putting himself at risk for more episodes like last week or perhaps something more serious."
Fortunately, Wilson is listening to the message.
"I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me, or pity me," Wilson said. "I lived my dream. A lot of people only get to dream their dream. I lived that dream. Now I have a chance to dream another dream and live that, too.
"I’m thankful that I can literally walk away from the game and that I am healthy and capable of doing the same things I have done all my life, except play football,” said Wilson. “I always try to find the positive in everything. This morning when I saw Dr. Cammisa and Dr. Warren, I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear, but I expected that what they told me could be a possibility. I had played out both scenarios in my mind. I prayed this morning before I went to see them that they would tell me what God would tell me. He put His answer in them to relay to me."
It was heartbreaking news for all involved. Wilson had an appointment Monday morning at the HSS and then returned to the team's facility to speak with team president John Mara, general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin.
“David and I had a great talk,” Reese said. “He’s disappointed like all of us, but he’s a strong young man and understands that he has a lot of life left to live and it’s not worth to him, his family or us to put his health in harm’s way by continuing to play football.”
“The whole idea for David is that he fulfilled his dream,” Coughlin added. “Even though his career was cut short, he remains positive and believes God has a plan. He has accepted this in such a way that is a great example for all of us. There is no self-pity. David is a strong person and extremely optimistic. He will meet his next challenge in life with the same enthusiasm he approached football.”
Wilson had appeared in five games before his 2013 neck injury and was inactive for the next three games before the team placed him on season-ending injured reserve on Nov. 7. On Jan. 16 of this year, Dr. Cammisa performed a spinal fusion to repair a herniated disc in Wilson's neck. According to Wilson, his current condition will require no more surgery or therapy.
Wilson ends his NFL career with six starts in 21 games. He rushed 115 times for 504 yards and five touchdowns, adding six receptions for 42 yards and another score. He gained 1,709 yards and scored nine touchdowns in 2011 for Virginia Tech, leading to his status as one of the more prized running backs in the 2012 draft class. The Giants selected him 32nd overall.
“Growing up, ever since I was eight years old, I wanted to play in the NFL,” said Wilson. “It was my dream. And I can’t say that I didn’t live my dream, because I did. I played for the New York Giants. I was a first round draft choice of the New York Giants. I scored touchdowns. I caught touchdowns. I returned kicks for touchdowns and I set records. So I got to do some of the things I dreamed of doing all my life.”