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Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Giants players react to David Wilson news

By Kieran Darcy

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants reconvened Tuesday for the first time since the stunning announcement of David Wilson's career-ending diagnosis.

Coach Tom Coughlin opened the team’s morning meeting talking about Wilson, who has been advised by doctors to discontinue playing football at the age of 23 due to the condition of his neck and spine.

“I relayed to them what I told [the media] yesterday -- about how he came into my office, his attitude, the way he was going to approach this,” Coughlin said. “The fact that he didn’t want pity, he didn’t want anybody feeling sorry for him. I thought that was a key, the way he left the office, talking about [being] once a Giant, always a Giant. It really did help 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.”

Wilson issued several quotes via press release Monday, but did not speak to reporters in person Tuesday. He may do so later this week. Quarterback Eli Manning said he hasn’t had the opportunity to speak with Wilson yet, either.

“Obviously I feel for him,” Manning said. “A tough situation. But obviously I guess it could have been a lot worse. And the fact that he’s making the right decision, and [you] don’t want to risk anything with that neck -- it’s scary and I feel for him. But David, he’s a good man and he’ll find something that he can do and he’ll do it well.”

Linebacker Jameel McClain suffered a spinal cord contusion in 2012 while playing for the Baltimore Ravens and was initially told he would never be able to play football again, either.

“This situation was so real to me, what he went through -- all I could think about was how he was feeling and how he was reacting through it, because it was something that I had to confront as soon as I met my first doctor and he told me I was never gonna play again,” McClain said. “It was something that I had to look at. To be in his position, it’s not an easy position; he’s a young man with a lot of talent. For me it hit in a way more personal place than probably it did for a lot of people.”

Wilson was one of five running backs on the Giants' roster. Veteran Peyton Hillis and rookie Andre Williams may see increased opportunities in the offense now, but both expressed sadness about Wilson’s predicament.

“I can’t even fathom it. He’s going through something right now that’s devastating,” Hillis said. “It hurts us as a running back room, it really does, because we really love David. David’s a great person -- David would always give you 100 percent on the field and he always gave you a smile when you looked at him. My prayers go out to him and his family.”

“David was a really dynamic running back,” Williams said. “He’s got a special ability, being able to start and stop, and being able to move at such a high speed. He does something special on the field, and he’s gonna be missed. Even in terms of his personality -- he always had a smile on his face, he was always upbeat, and people feed off that. We’re gonna miss his energy.”

For the entire team, this news is an ice-cold splash of reality in the heat of training camp -- a stark reminder of how violent the game of football is and how fleeting an NFL career can be.

But Wilson’s refreshing perspective, as evidenced by what he said Monday, could give this new group of Giants some extra inspiration as they continue to build toward the 2014 regular season.

“I think it’s a great example,” Coughlin said. “You don’t ever want to see it happen in that regard, but there are a lot of things that happen in life that are unexpected that you do have to be prepared for, and how to handle it is certainly demonstrated by David.”