Giants RB David Wilson Forced To Retire At Age 23

Why doctors say it's not safe for him to play and who is expected to fill his role.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Life is unfair. The sport of football is egregiously cruel.

It doesn’t seem that long ago David Wilson was putting up record numbers for the New York football Giants and doing back flips in the end zone. Now, less than two years later, doctors have informed the running back he should hang up his helmet and retire from the game that’s made him a star.

Wilson wrote on Instagram, “At age 8, I told my #Dad I wanted to play football in THE NFL. Unfortunately that has been paused, but I am blessed that I am able to walk away from this game healthy and still able to be me with no restrictions pain or struggle.”

The 23-year-old had off-season neck surgery to repair a herniated disk, an injury he suffered last October in a game against the Eagles. He was out the reminder of the year. After getting a clean bill of health, he then re-aggravated it July 29 in practice when a hit gave him a “burner,”  which sends numbness down one’s arms and legs. It was later determined he has spinal stenosis. Yup, serious stuff. 

Instead of risking his life for a game, Wilson is retiring. 

New York Times

“We let David know that by playing, he would be putting himself at risk for more episodes like last week or perhaps something more serious,” the team physician Russell Warren said.

Jene Bramel, an urgent care pediatrician who writes frequently about football injuries, said in an email that Wilson was at risk of paralysis and quadriplegia if his spinal cord and nerve roots were damaged. Bramel surmised that team doctors had determined Wilson’s neck bones could not adequately absorb future hits. Spinal stenosis, which can be congenital or acquired by trauma, has been linked to ending the careers of several other prominent players, including the Pro Bowlers Michael Irvin, Sterling Sharpe and Chris Samuels.

Coach Tom Coughlin said Wilson was remarkably upbeat when he spoke with him Monday.

“Nothing that was said got him to a state of melancholy or anything, and he wasn’t going to go there,” Coughlin said in a teleconference. “That’s the impression I got. If you think back on it, that’s the way he always has been.”

Wilson put up 1,925 all-purpose yards as an NFL rookie in 2012, which was sixth most in team history. He was set to be a fixture in fantasy lineups this year. Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams will now be the featured backs going into week 1 for New York.

Related: 2014 Fantasy Football Guy’d

Josh Helmuth is the editor of CraveOnline Sports.

Photo Credit: Getty