EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – David Wilson will no longer play football, but he remains an inspiration to the Giants because of his enduring sunniness and enthusiasm.
“He certainly expected for his career to be longer, but sometimes it doesn’t work. The way he expressed it was, ‘God must have something in mind for me. I want no pity. I want no one feeling sorry for me. I am not going to be down about this. No one will catch me in that frame of mind. I am going to stay positive and I am going to continue to be.’ He said I am an optimistic person by nature and it is going to remain that way. I thought that was a wonderful thing for him to say and a great lesson for all of us.”
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Earlier today, Wilson was advised by Dr. Russell Warren, the team’s physician and former surgeon-in-chief for the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), and Dr. Frank Cammisa, chief of spine service at HSS, that he should no longer play football. Wilson will be placed on injured reserve for the 2014 season.
Wilson, the Giants’ 2012 first-round draft choice out of Virginia Tech, was forced to leave practice last Tuesday after suffering a burner, which caused numbness in his hands and lower extremities, symptoms he displayed when he suffered his original neck injury last October 6 against Philadelphia. Wilson underwent a battery of tests Tuesday night at HSS and was scheduled for an exam and evaluation by Cammisa for this morning.
He must end his career at age 23, and after playing in only 21 games. That’s a devastating blow to any young man, but Coughlin said Wilson has reacted to the disappointment with his head held high.
“He came in my office with a big smile on his face and he had been with (general manager) Jerry (Reese),” Coughlin said. “Nothing that was said got him to a state of melancholy and he wasn’t going to go there. That’s the impression I got. If you think back on it, that’s the way he always has been. I tried to explain to you when he first had the surgery, maybe 10 days later, he is in the weight room. I walk in and he is in there doing some things with his legs with a big smile on his face and I say, ‘David, take it easy, will you?’ He was taking it easy for himself and in terms of the way he thought. He has always been one of those…young men and it’s a very attractive part of him and he carries himself well, has a great attitude, and it’s a lot to be said about his inner strength right now, and certainly what he learned as a youngster from his parents comes shining through.”
Without Wilson, the Giants have five running backs: Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Peyton Hillis, Michael Cox and Kendall Gaskins. Is that enough?
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“Well, you’ve got five guys and two fullbacks and Henry (Hynoski) can play running back if you chose to do that,” Coughlin said. “If we think that there is a circumstance at the beginning of the week that will jeopardize your ability to practice, then I am sure we will have another one in here. The answer is yes.”
But it doesn’t mitigate the sadness regarding Wilson, a player who had a seemingly long and bright future.
“David recited for me the things that have been heard all week because of the Hall of Fame and because of Michael Strahan’s induction,” Coughlin said. “Once a Giant, always a Giant. He heard it earlier in the week and it is true. He’s a Giant. He’ll always be a Giant. He is welcome here always and I think and hope and asked him to keep me informed once he got settled and visits with his mother and father about what direction he wants to go in, to keep me informed.”