New York Giants running back David Wilson was optimistic that he could return to the practice field after a couple of days off following his latest neck injury. The team was less optimistic, fearing that a new injury to the neck area so soon after Wilson's spinal fusion surgery meant they wouldn't be able to risk letting him play. The team was right.
The Giants placed Wilson on injured reserve Monday, after the team's spine specialist advised the third-year tailback that he should no longer play football.
Wilson hurt his neck in practice last week, saw some doctors about it in New York City and believed he'd get good news Monday after being examined by the doctor who performed his surgery in January. But Wilson usually tweets good news, and his Instagram and Twitter accounts have been silent since Sunday.
We are in the process of trying to get more detail on the next steps, but one possibility is that the Giants ultimately reach an injury settlement with Wilson and release him.
Wilson's promising career appears over at the age of 23. And while it's almost certainly the right decision, because his life and health must absolutely take precedence over his football career, it's still heartbreaking that it would come to this.
Wilson was the Giants' first-round draft pick in 2012, the year after they won their most recent Super Bowl. He dazzled on the field as a kick returner but was used sparingly as a running back in his rookie year. At the start of 2013, the Giants handed Wilson the starting running back job. But he fumbled twice in the opener in Dallas and got benched, while coaches worked with him in practice on improving his ball-carrying technique. Once that improved, they worked him back into the offense, but he injured his neck in Week 5 against the Eagles and didn't play again all season.
Wilson's hope -- and the Giants' hope -- was that rest and rehab following surgery would make everything OK. And indeed, on July 21, the day before the Giants' first training camp practice, Wilson received clearance from doctors to practice in full. He did that for a week, but then this past Monday he ran head-first into the back of guard Eric Herman and walked off the practice field with a "burner."
Now he's certainly done for this season, and likely much longer. It's sad because Wilson is a great talent who it seems won't get to reach his potential. But anyone who's met the young man knows how happy and positive he is about everything, and your heart breaks for a guy who feels that way about life and the world and then gets a break like this. It's a part of the game, yes, and he's not the first one to whom this has happened and won't be the last. But here, on Aug. 4, 2014, within the context of this player and this team, this is sad news.
I am no fan of the Giants or any other team. I watch sports with the hope of being dazzled. And Wilson, when he has the ball in his hands, is capable of dazzling. So it makes me sad to think we won't get to watch him play anymore. But I wish him the best. And however crushed he is by today's news, I hope that someday he understands and appreciates the wisdom of the decision not to take chances with something as precious as his life.