EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants running back David Wilson says he's ready to start the next chapter of his life now that he's been told he should no longer play football. Nevertheless, he got emotional Wednesday when talking about his Giants teammates and coaches.
"You get to the NFL and you have great players that will probably be in the Hall of Fame one day, and they support you," Wilson said, choking back tears about five minutes into a news conference at the Giants' team facility. "Coaches that won Super Bowls, they get behind you and they support you. And that's been a great feeling."
Wilson said this was the first time since Monday, when doctors told him he should quit football because of repeated injuries to his neck, that his emotions overcame him. He took a white handkerchief with a red-lined border out of his suit jacket pocket and wiped his tears with it, and he insisted that he would remain positive about everything.
"These are tears of joy, man," he said. "Don't for a second think that I'm pitying myself or sad, because I got to live my dream. And I'll set another dream and be great at that. These are just tears of joy, because as I speak, I realize how much people have helped me along the way."
Wilson said he remained optimistic about his football future right up until the time the doctors spoke to him Monday and told him he'd be taking too big a risk if he continued to play. He said he understands that it's the right decision in the big picture.
"I don't have a family yet," the 23-year-old said. "And I want to have one, and I want to enjoy it."
Wilson said he had some ideas about his next career path, but he didn't want to get into detail. His college track coach told NJ.com on Tuesday that he thought Wilson could still pursue a career as a jumper if he wanted to and that he looked forward to working with Wilson on that if he so chose.
"I have a couple of ideas," Wilson said. "But as far as that goes, I guess you'll just have to follow closely and see where I go from here."
Wilson said he appreciated that high-ranking members of the Giants organization have told him he could come to them for anything he needs in the future. He also said he'd retain a strong connection to his former teammates from afar.
"Every time I watch a Giants game, or a football game that has players that I got a chance to meet, I want to see them try to be great," Wilson said. "Because this could be taken away. So when they go out on that field, I want to see them every Sunday, or Thursday, or Monday, I want to see these guys be great, to push themselves. That's where my joy will come from.
"Life will knock you down sometimes," he said. "But even if one dream seems to fade away, set another dream, set another goal and pursue that."
Wilson was the Giants' first-round pick in 2012 out of Virginia Tech. He was a star kick returner as a rookie and began 2013 as the team's starting running back. Fumble problems in that season's opener led to a benching, and as he worked his way back into the offense, he injured his neck in a Week 5 game against the Eagles. He missed the rest of the 2013 season and had spinal fusion surgery in January.
Doctors finally cleared Wilson to practice on July 21, the day before the Giants opened training camp, and he practiced with the team for the first week. But early last week, he injured his neck again and went for further tests, at which point doctors determined he'd be putting himself at too great a risk by continuing to play. The Giants placed Wilson on injured reserve Tuesday, officially ending his season.