David Wilson tearfully said goodbye to the NFL on Wednesday. He won't play football again, but perhaps he can spend his future working with kids, because his message on such a sad day was remarkably uplifting.
Wilson, a Giants running back and 2012 first-round pick, had to give up football because of a neck injury. He suffered the injury last year, had spinal fusion surgery, and then during training camp he suffered a neck "burner," or nerve injury. Doctors advised him not to play again, and he won't.
He spoke to the media on Wednesday. He reiterated some points from a statement he put out Tuesday – that he wouldn't dwell on the negative and that nobody should feel sorry for him. He said he got a chance to live out his dream of playing in the NFL. His NFL career was cut short, but he talked about moving on to something new.
"When life knocks you down, I always say plan to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up," Wilson said. "But if you fall flat on your face, it can kill your spirit. So far I can look up, and I plan on getting up."
He spoke of honoring his parents during his career, and not letting anyone down who supported him along the way. It's impossible to believe anyone who knows Wilson would have felt anything but pride as he spoke. It was a great show of perspective and class from a 23-year-old who had just been told that the career he had been building for so long was over.
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When he got to mentioning teammates and coaches who had supported him through his injury, that's when the tears started coming.
"These are tears of joy, man," Wilson said as he broke down. "Don't for a second y'all think I'm pitying myself or I'm sad. I got to live my dream. I'll set another dream, and be great at that."
Wilson lasted two seasons in the NFL. Based on the poise and strength he showed during such a tough time for him, he probably does have bigger things ahead of him.
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