Teary eyed, Giants' David Wilson confronts end of his football career

An emotional David Wilson spoke to the media for the first time on Aug. 6, 2014, after the Giants running back was advised by doctors to never play football again. The 23-year-old had neck surgery last January and was injured again during training camp. (Credit: New York Giants)

David Wilson wept.

For the first time since doctors told him that he can no longer play football, the 23-year-old's sentiments came streaming out of his eyes. Tears of joy, he insisted. Tears of gratitude for all of those who had made his dream come true . . . even though it was cut short by a neck injury.

And he had a message for his teammates, too.

"I'll be looking at my teammates this year and forever, wishing them the best," Wilson said Wednesday, his words grating against his emotions as he pushed them out. "Every time I watch a Giants game or a football game and I see people playing that I actually had a chance to meet, I want to watch them go on that field and I want to see them try to be great. Because it can be taken away. When they go on the field I want to see them every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday, I want to see them guys do great and be great. Push themselves. That's where my joy will come from."

Win one. For the Flipper.

Wilson created a stir in 2012 when cameras caught him apparently crying following a fumble in his first NFL game, a loss to the Cowboys. He denied it in that instance but felt no shame in bookending his career with another teary-eyed moment. This time, no one blames him for getting choked up.

"Don't for a second think I'm pitying myself or sad, because I got to live my dream," Wilson said, wiping his tears with a handkerchief pulled from the breast pocket of his gray suit. "I'll set another dream and be great at that. I always look at trying to be great at what I do."

It was going down the list of those who have helped him in his career that brought out the tears, from his hometown to his home state, all the way to the Giants.

"You go to the NFL and all these NFL players, great players who will probably be in the Hall of Fame one day," he said, pausing for the first time to collect himself, "and they support you. And coaches that won Super Bowls, they get behind you and they support you. That's just been a great feeling."

Perhaps it was the reference to Canton that got him. Because that was his dream, one that unlike simply playing in the NFL can now never be reached. As a rookie, he told Newsday: "I think at the end of my career, I'll be in the Hall of Fame."

Wilson underwent surgery in January and suffered a burner in practice last week. The Giants were prepared for Wilson's inability to play in 2014, but it is still a blow to their numbers at running back. Especially after veteran Peyton Hillis left Tuesday's practice with a sprained ankle that Tom Coughlin said will take "a little while" to heal. Coughlin said the two fullbacks on the roster can carry the ball if need be, but if another of the four remaining running backs -- Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Michael Cox, Kendall Gaskins -- were to have an injury, the Giants likely would have to add a new player.

Wilson wouldn't say what his future holds, but said he is blessed to have a "head start" in the rest of his life thanks to being a first-round draft pick. The Giants chose Wilson No. 32 overall out of Virginia Tech in the 2012 draft.

"When you push the pause button you get to look at all of that," he said of recognizing all of those who helped him in his playing career. "But I plan on pushing play real soon and moving on in future endeavors. I'm excited.

"I plan to be all right."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

NFL videos

Vote

Who gets the deflated game ball as the Giants' least valuable player after their loss to the Cardinals?

Eli Manning Victor Cruz Rashad Jennings Quinton Demps Zack Bowman Someone else

advertisement | advertise on newsday