The news that Wilson was advised not to continue football was reportedly coming as late as Thursday of last week. We reported the development of Wilson likely being shut down and his career being in jeopardy on Friday, but left out the rumor until it was substantiated. It has now been confirmed by multiple sources, including the Giants themselves in a press release:
"Giants running back David Wilson was advised today by Dr. Russell Warren, the team's physician and former surgeon-in-chief for the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), and Dr. Frank Cammisa, chief of spine service at HSS, that he should no longer play football. Wilson will be placed on injured reserve for the 2014 season."
That diagnosis came from a meeting that was prompted by his recurring injury symptoms last week:
"Wilson, the Giants' 2012 first-round draft choice out of Virginia Tech, was forced to leave practice last Tuesday after suffering a burner, which caused numbness in his hands and lower extremities, symptoms he displayed when he suffered his original neck injury last October 6 against Philadelphia."
Wilson, for what it's worth, sounded as upbeat as anyone who has ever received news of this magnitude could sound:
"I don't want anybody to feel sorry for me, or pity me. 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."
"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"
"Growing up, ever since I was eight years old, I wanted to play in the NFL. 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."
It has not been officially confirmed that Wilson intends to pursue other avenues and leave football behind, but those statements sound pretty conclusive in regards to his intentions. He would not be precluded from coming back should he change his mind. However, while the diagnosis does not officially prohibit Wilson from playing football again, it is unlikely that another team would give him the opportunity to play given his circumstances and being blackballed by the Giants' doctor and his own surgeon.
Asked league source if Giants RB David Wilson's career is over because of latest neck injury. His response: "Most likely."— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) August 4, 2014
Wilson's procedure, a fusing of the herniated disk, can be successful, as it was with Peyton Manning, who had a cervical fusion, but no two injuries in that regard are alike, and neither are any two athletes. Deadspin had the best explanation of this surgery, specific to Wilson, that I have read:
"Spinal stenosis is irreversible, but doctors attempted to at least halt the narrowing by performing spinal fusion surgery: part of the herniated disc was removed, and two of Wilson cervical vertebrae were literally fused together. It didn't work. Last week, Wilson was removed from practice after suffering a "stinger" or "burner," two innocuous sounding names for a painful and debilitating nerve injury most likely caused by his narrowed spinal canal."
Wilson, the Hokies' record-setting single season rusher in 2011, was a first round pick of the Giants in 2012. He finishes his NFL career, presumably, with 504 yards on 115 carries and 5 touchdowns,
14 6 receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown, and 1,755 return yards on 66 returns and a touchdown. He apparently does not require surgery on the injury to continue his everyday life as long as he does not intend to pursue football any further.
As always, we wish all former Hokies the best, but on a personal note, Wilson was one of the most enjoyable Virginia Tech football players to ever grace the field at Lane Stadium, and was a joy to cover. He is a wonderful human being by all accounts, and his many talents will serve him well in life whatever he chooses to do. As Rotoworld opined:
"It's a sad end to what once appeared to be an extremely bright career."
A fitting tribute to one of the best athletes and people to come through Virginia Tech. Godspeed David, and good luck.