August 15th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
David Wilson’s brief career marked by flashes of both record setting brilliance and scowl inducing mishaps came to an abrupt end. After a Junior season at Virginia Tech in which he posted over 1,700 rushing yards with an “eye popping” 5.76 yards per, the New York Giants took Wilson in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The 2011 ACC Offensive Player of the Year understandably entered his rookie season with a fair amount of buzz. On the second carry of his NFL career, Wilson put the ball on the ground. Tom Coughlin, a known hard ass of a coach, promptly stuffed Wilson in his “dog house”. Wilson didn’t set foot on the field the rest of the game.
With Ahmad Bradshaw’s foot which we all know is held together by glue and duct tape started to fail him, the door to the “dog house” was reluctantly unlocked. And Wilson busted out. In week 5 against Cleveland, Wilson gave the first glimpse of what garnered him a first round grade with a blurring 40 yard scamper on his first touch of the game. It foreshadowed his break out performance against the New Orleans Saints on December 9th. Wilson put up a gaudy 327 all purpose yards which included a 97 yard kick off return for a touchdown and a 52 yard rush for another TD. Those 327 yards is the Giants record for all purpose yards.
With Bradshaw off to Indianapolis, Wilson started the 2013 season as the lead back. In the first game of the season against division foe Dallas Cowboys, Wilson fumbling woes resurfaced. Coughlin eventually pulled the young, potential laden Wilson in favor of Da’Rel Scott. Who? I don’t know. Some dude named Da’Rel. Confidence in tatters, Wilson began running with both hands wrapped around the ball. It was sad; the kid looked like he was running in a straitjacket. His season sputtered along, until in week 5 he injured his neck in a collision in the end zone. Wilson was later diagnosed with spinal stenosis. After undergoing surgery in January of this year, Wilson jubilantly announced that he was cleared for all football activity. A week into training camp, Wilson suffered what was then termed a stinger. On August 6th, at the age of 23, in a tearful press conference, Wilson announced his retirement.
I remember that prior to the start of last season, David Wilson was the talk of fantasy football. Most considered him a no brainer 2nd rounder with very good chance of returning 1st round production. In our draft, he was taken late in the first round. I also remember watching the disaster unfold in the season opener against Dallas – the game in which he was pulled for Da’Rel Scott. As I watched, I remember thinking how irate fantasy owners who’d spent their early round pick on Wilson must be. Those who hung on to him hoping as they suffered through week after excruciating week … how they must have cursed his name when he was placed on IR with two-thirds of the season still remaining. “Damn you Wilson!”
Then I saw the press conference. I watched as a young man of mere 23 … 23! trying to come to terms with giving up his life’s dream. A dream for which he had worked, sweated and bled for as long as he could remember. He had beat the odds and made it. Got to the NFL. And before he could stretch his legs, it was done. Over.
Watching the heart broken Wilson gallantly thanking his coaches and teammates made the whole fantasy football angle feel sillier than the silliness it already is. I’m no moralist. But c’mon, even as we play games, it’s good to put things in their proper place. Losing your mind because a catastrophic injury to a player is going to affect your fantasy team is wack.