By John McMullen, NFL Editor, The Sports Network
Canton, OH (SportsNetwork.com) – Tom Coughlin and Michael Strahan didn’t always get along but they will always walk together in history, the head coach and his leader who willed a group of men that stunned the previously unbeaten and 12-point favorite New England Patriots to win Super Bowl XLII.
Call it a “Big Blue bond,” one which Coughlin often describes as “once a Giant, always a Giant.”
Of course that kind of hype is easy to sell when you’re talking about a two- time Super Bowl-winning coach and his Hall of Fame pass-rushing star. It really rings true, however, when you see how the organization has rallied around the star-crossed David Wilson, a former first-round pick whose football career is likely over at the age of 23.
Wilson was advised by doctors on Monday to no longer play the game due to neck problems.
Wilson was trying to make a comeback after serious surgery in January to fuse his vertebrae and repair a herniated disk stemming from an injury he suffered in a Week 5 loss to Philadelphia last season.
A burner forced Wilson to leave practice last Tuesday and he was sent to a hospital for precautionary tests on his surgically repaired neck. He sat out the remainder of last week’s practices and Sunday night’s Hall of Fame Game against the Buffalo Bills.
The whispers were loud over the weekend in Canton and a source close to the Giants informed The Sports Network that the news wouldn’t be good when Wilson’s future was finally addressed.
On Monday morning, Wilson met with the doctor who performed his surgery in January and the advice to call it a career came from that doctor, Frank Cammisa Jr., and Giants team physician Russell Warren.
“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,” Warren said.
“You naturally feel bad, you feel down,” Coughlin said on a conference call late Mondays afternoon. “It is just a natural thing. I have to say when David came in and we sat and talked, he is such an upbeat young man. He is so positive. The smile is still on his face, even though he has received this kind of news.”
“The statement that gets you is he told his dad when he was eight years old that he wanted to play in the NFL and he did that,” Coughlin continued. “Not only that, he was a first-round draft choice in the National Football League.”
From a pure football perspective, Wilson will be nothing more than a footnote in Giants history. In two seasons with the club, the Virginia Tech product rushed for 504 yards and five touchdowns over 21 games — including six starts. He caught six passes for 42 yards and a score.
“I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me, or pity me,” said Wilson. “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.”
Unlike Strahan, and perhaps Coughlin, there will be no celebrations in Canton for Wilson down the line but he will always be celebrated in East Rutherford.
Once a Giant, always a Giant.
“David recited for me the things that have been heard all week because of the Hall of Fame and because of Michael Strahan’s induction,” Coughlin said. “Once a Giant, always a Giant. He heard it earlier in the week and it is true. He’s a Giant. He’ll always be a Giant. He is welcome here always.”