Friday, December 26, 2014

Ex-Giant Wilson sheds 'tears of joy'

DAVID WILSON said he had "tears of joy" as he thanked the Giants yesterday, 2 days after doctors told the third-year running back that he could no longer play football.

When the 23-year old Wilson, who was waived-injured by the Giants on Tuesday, spoke of his teammates, he paused twice and brushed away tears with the pocket handkerchief from his suit.

"These are tears of joy," Wilson said. "Don't think I'm sad. There's no need to dwell on the negative, because if you do, then you feel sorry for yourself and you're not living. I'm still healthy. I'll still be able to do the things that I could always do, except play football."

Wilson, the Giants' first-round selection of the 2012 draft out of Virginia Tech, had a solid rookie season. He led the NFL in kickoff-return yardage with 1,533 yards, setting a Giants record. He also rushed for 358 yards.

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Wilson played in only five games last season before suffering the serious neck injury last October. An MRI showed that Wilson had spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal cord. He underwent spinal fusion surgery to repair vertebrae and a herniated disc in his neck in January.

He had received clearance to return to football activities at the start of training camp 2 weeks ago. But last Tuesday, Wilson caught a pass during a drill, put his head down and ran into the back of an offensive lineman. That hit caused numbness in his hands and lower extremities.

"It was a scary feeling," Wilson said. "I can't hide that fact. But at the same time, I felt perfectly fine and was totally optimistic. I hoped and prayed that I would be cleared. When I say I was really positive, that's what I was. I expected to come back."

But Giants team doctors and the spinal specialist who operated on Wilson agreed that it would be best for Wilson to step away from the game.

"The doctors dealt with this injury before and I'm comfortable with their answer," he said. "They told me that I would live a healthy life. I have a long life to live. I'm only 23 years old. I've been blessed. I lived my dream by playing in the NFL. I was drafted in the first round. I have guys here who support me in whatever I do."

Noteworthy

* Johnny Manziel will start Cleveland's exhibition opener on the sideline. Browns coach Mike Pettine chose Brian Hoyer as the starting quarterback for Saturday's game in Detroit, giving the veteran the first chance to impress before Manziel takes the field. Pettine said the decision to start Hoyer over Manziel was based on the veteran's performance so far in training camp.

* Arizona tight end Jake Ballard announced his retirement and traced his decision to the severe knee injury he sustained playing for the New York Giants in the 2012 Super Bowl. "My body never felt the same," he said.

* The Pro Football Hall of Fame is adding a contributor category for nomination next year. The new category has the potential of increasing the number of annual inductees to eight. Hall of Fame president David Baker said there was a need to add the category to address what had become a backlog of qualified candidates, including commissioners, owners and general managers. There are currently only 19 contributors enshrined. Previously, contributors were included among the modern-era nomination list of players and coaches, which was limited to a maximum of five inductees.

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