Most dreams end with an alarm clock. David Wilson's buzzed Monday.
The 23-year-old Giants running back, who underwent neck surgery in January and suffered a burner in practice last week, was advised by team doctors that he shouldn't play football anymore. The Giants will put Wilson on injured reserve, ending his third season with the team and, almost certainly, his career.
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"I don't want anybody to feel sorry for me or pity me," Wilson said through the team. "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."
According to team physician Russell Warren, Wilson has diffuse cervical stenosis. He also had a disc removed and a fusion in January.
"In light of last week's episode of symptoms, sensory and motor, Frank [Cammisa, chief of spine service at the Hospital for Special Surgery] and I both told David he should not play football anymore," he said. "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."
Wilson had been cleared to return to full-contact practice at the start of training camp on July 21. He left practice on July 29 with the burner. He underwent a series of tests that night and met with the doctors Monday morning to go over the results.
"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," Wilson said. "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."
Wilson most likely will negotiate an injury settlement with the Giants that theoretically could free him to play for another team willing to put him on the field. It did not sound as if Wilson will pursue that option, even though he will not require any additional surgery or therapy.
"The whole idea for David is that he fulfilled his dream," coach Tom Coughlin said. "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."
Added general manager Jerry Reese: "He has a lot of life left to live and it's not worth it to him, his family or us to put his health in harm's way by continuing to play football."
A first-round pick by the Giants in 2012, Wilson had only 115 career carries for 504 yards and five rushing touchdowns in 21 games. He also scored a receiving touchdown and one on a kickoff return.
He was known for his speed, quickness, smiling disposition and celebratory backflips after touchdowns, but he also found himself in Coughlin's doghouse on several occasions for three career fumbles.
"Growing up, ever since I was 8 years old, I wanted to play in the NFL," Wilson said. "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."
He just dreamed that he would be able to do them for much longer.