Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
Giants rookie running back David Wilson is at the beginning of his career, but he's already thinking about the end. By then, he will be considered one of the greatest players at his position in NFL history.
Or so he says.
"I think at the end of my career, I'll be in the Hall of Fame," he said. "I know myself, and I know [when] I have guys around me that feel the same way, which I feel I do. When I get my opportunity, the sky is not the limit. I think it's past it. You have to believe in yourself to do good things. This is how I feel."
That's a bold proclamation by someone who has played only six NFL games and committed one very noticeable and very costly fumble on his second carry. But this is one very confident young man. He believes that once his time arrives, which he hopes will be very soon, he will become a transcendent player and join other great Giants runners such as Frank Gifford, Ken Strong and Tuffy Leemans in the Hall of Fame.
"I'm like birth control," Wilson said. "You have to believe in me. Like birth control, 99.9 percent of the time I'm going to come through for you."
It's still too early to tell if Wilson will be an all-time great, but he's already an all-time great quote. And while the Giants certainly appreciate Wilson's self-assurance, they're not ready to proclaim his greatness anytime soon. Nor should they. When I relayed Wilson's comments to offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, he rolled his eyes and briefly walked away. "I'm not even gonna answer that one," he said.
Asked if Wilson will get more opportunities, Gilbride said, "We'll see. He's progressing in some things, but some things he has a ways to go. He's got a lot of room for growth."
Wilson hopes his chances increase as soon as Sunday against the Redskins, although he knows he's still behind Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown. But Bradshaw's foot problems have flared again -- he didn't practice Wednesday -- and Brown has missed the last two games with a concussion. Tom Coughlin said all three backs will get chances Sunday.
Wilson can provide some game-breaking explosiveness. He has been terrific on kickoff returns, and his 66-yard return on the opening kickoff of the third quarter helped set up the Giants to take a two-touchdown lead en route to a 26-3 win over the 49ers last week.
Wilson might be the Giants' best return man since the days of Rocky Thompson in the early 1970s. Yes, it has been that long since the Giants have had that kind of explosive return game.
As longtime Giants fans remember, Thompson also was a first-round running back (in 1971) but quickly flamed out and was gone by the 1974 season.
Wilson obviously has other plans as a running back. He thinks he's ready to break out at any moment and already is lobbying coaches for more playing time.
"It's a matter of getting me in there, trying to put the bug in their ear for some playing time," he said.
In practice Thursday, for instance, he had a conversation with tight ends coach Mike Pope, who was instructing him about blitz pickup, which is a critical responsibility for any running back.
"He came to me and said somebody missed a blitz, and he said, 'You know, on that blitz, you have to look at . . . ' and I finished his sentence for him. I said, 'See? I know it.'
That fumble on opening night may have represented the .1 percent time Wilson didn't come through. Or at least he hopes that's the case.
"I never know when that opportunity is coming, and that's why you have to stay prepared," he said. "But when I do get that opportunity, I'm going to get lost in the moment and keep it going. Once I get my chance to go out there and play football and do what I do, I'm not going to want to let go of that."