ESPN is reporting that Giants doctors will place RB David Wilson on injured reserve for the season because of his latest neck injury. This is not much of a surprise—a source told NJ.com last week that Wilson "needs a miracle" to play again—but it would be a premature and unsatisfying ending to a promising career that never quite got started.
Wilson, the Giants' first-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 2012, found himself down on the depth chart in his rookie year after fumbling twice in the opener, and his sophomore season ended after just five games thanks to a herniated disc in his neck. He was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal.
Spinal stenosis is irreversible, but doctors attempted to at least halt the narrowing by performing spinal fusion surgery: part of the herniated disc was removed, and two of Wilson cervical vertebrae were literally fused together. It didn't work. Last week, Wilson was removed from practice after suffering a "stinger" or "burner," two innocuous sounding names for a painful and debilitating nerve injury most likely caused by his narrowed spinal canal.
Neck and spinal injuries are mysterious things—no one will ever be able to say with certainty what caused Wilson's spinal stenosis, although herniated discs are one potential cause. And no two players are affected the same way.
Perhaps the saddest part is that the fate of Wilson, an immensely talented tailback who appears to have finished with just 115 carries as a pro, isn't even much of an anomaly. The NFLPA has calculated that the average career of a running back in the league is 2.57 years. Usually it's not so cut-and-dried as Wilson's story, but all it takes is getting hit wrong once.
Update, 3 p.m. EDT: The Giants have put out a release headlined, starkly, "David Wilson advised not to play football."
The release contains a statement from Wilson. He says:
"I don't want anybody to feel sorry for me, or pity me. I lived my dream. A lot of people only get to dream their dream. I lived that dream. Now I have a chance to dream another dream and live that, too.
"I'm thankful that I can literally walk away from the game and that I am healthy and capable of doing the same things I have done all my life, except play football."