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David Wilson Bids Tearful Goodbye To Football

David Wilson during his farewell press conference on August 6, 2014. (Photo by Ernie Acosta/WFAN)

David Wilson during his farewell press conference on August 6, 2014. (Photo by Ernie Acosta/WFAN)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — David Wilson had trouble keeping it together during his farewell press conference on Wednesday.

But he said his were tears of joy. He got to live his dream with the New York Giants, and the next adventure is just around the corner.

“Don’t for a second y’all think that I’m pitying myself,” said Wilson, whose NFL career came to a premature end this week due to the risks of playing with a serious spinal condition. “I’ll set another dream, and (I’ll) be great at that. Because I always look at trying to be great at whatever I do.”

The 23-year-old running back was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal, after suffering a season-ending neck injury last October. He had spinal fusion surgery during the offseason and was cleared for contact at the start of training camp.

But a neck burner suffered in practice last week raised the Giants’ worst fears, which were later confirmed by team doctors. It was recommended that the 2012 first-round pick pull off the pads for good.

“I’ll be looking at my teammates this year — and forever — that I played with, wishing them the best,” Wilson said. “And every time I watch a Giants game or a football game and see people play that I actually had a chance to meet, I want to watch them go on that field, and I want to see them try to be great. Because it can be taken away.”

Wilson rushed for 358 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie year. He also set a Giants record with 1,533 kickoff return yards.

His career will end with 504 career rushing yards and five touchdowns.

“I always say, ‘Plan to land on your back,’ ” he said. “Because if you look up, you can get up. If you fall flat on your face, that can kill your spirit.”

“David beat me to the punch,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “God has another plan for him. That’s exactly what he said. Life’s full of challenges. All I do is try to tell them, prepare yourself for the next challenge. … And I think he’s already started thinking about that.”

Giants safety Antrel Rolle called the situation “heartbreaking,” but said he was confident Wilson would be a success given his mindset.

“I can’t imagine what I would feel, what I would go through,” Rolle told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Wednesday. “It’s not worth your life. It’s not worth not being able to function the way you want to function (for) the rest of your life.”

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