It’s hard to deny that the loss of David Wilson to a career-ending neck injury won’t have an impact on the 2014 Giants. Sure, the team brought in veteran Rashad Jennings and rookie Andre Williams in the offseason, but it was still counting on Wilson’s explosiveness in open space to be a factor on offense, especially after the news that he had fully recovered from spinal fusion surgery.
After Wilson suffered a second neck injury in practice last week, he has been advised by doctors to quit playing football. And so just when it looked like Wilson was ready to continue his NFL career, it has come to a heartbreaking end. Nevertheless, Wilson didn’t want people feeling bad for him just because was leaving the league much sooner than he anticipated.
“The fact that he didn’t want pity, didn’t want anybody feeling sorry for him,” noted Coughlin of Wilson’s retirement announcement. “I thought that was a key and the way he left the office talking about ‘Once a Giants, always a Giant,’ really helped me,” said head coach Tom Coughlin, “He helped me. David Wilson walked into my office and helped me understand and accept the fact that he was not going to be able to play anymore. I tried to relay all of that to our team.”
According to Coughlin, who met with Wilson in private earlier in the week, the 2012 first-round draft pick is at peace with what has happened and is ready to move on. The coach relayed that information to the rest of the team.
“I think they feel better about that,” said Coughlin, “Knowing that David has -- I don’t know what he does behind closed doors, don’t get me wrong, but he certainly is tough enough mentally to present a guy that’s at peace.”
In 21 career NFL games, Wilson had rushed for 504 yards and a 4.4 yards per carry average. Although he lost three fumbles in 115 career carries, Wilson also scored five touchdowns for the Giants. By far the best game of his career was a December 2012 tilt vs. the Saints. Wilson gained 100 yards and scored two touchdowns on just 13 carries. He also added a 97-yard kickoff return touchdown in a performance that showed Giants supporters and fans around the league the type of player he could be. The Giants won that day, 52-27.
With Wilson retiring, the Giants will depend a lot on Jennings and Williams to carry the rushing load this season. The third string job will likely be fought over by Peyton Hillis, Michael Cox, and Kendall Gaskins.