Since David Wilson’s career ending neck injury, the response from the Giants has been one of staunch support. Though, there has been one Giant in particular who sees Wilson’s situation in a particularly unique and humbling light. Linebacker Jameel McClain was born with spinal stenosis: a potential career and life altering injury. In fact, McClain says his first doctor advised him not to continue playing football.
“It’s something that I had to confront because when I met my first doctor and he told me I was never going to play again, it was something I had to look at,” noted McClain. “To be in his position is not easy. He’s a young man with a lot of talent. For me, it hit me more personal than maybe others.”
McClain acknowledges that hearing the diagnosis wasn’t easy, but says learning to monitor and work through his condition is what has him on the field today.
“Mine was just something that needed time to heal,” said McClain. “It was possible that it could heal and also that it couldn’t. So I had to live with that. It was completely different than if I had surgery, then I would know I had a certain timetable. My injury was stretched out for such a long time because we just didn’t know. All we could do is sit back and take multiple MRIs. It was like drawing blood from me, slowly but surely. But it all panned out. I believed and my family believed and focused on me coming right back. Doing the right preparation for me to come right in and play the first game.”
In comparing his past scenario to Wilson’s current one, McClain says the similarities enabled the two player to bond.
“I told him in the locker room when I first came here, “I had exactly what you had and I understand,” noted the Giants’ linebacker. “We talked over time with that. My thoughts and prayers are with him 100%.”
While it is hard for Giants players, coaches and fans to not feel down about David Wilson’s injury, McClain says Wilson is incredibly upbeat and will persevere.
“Like he said, he didn’t want anybody to feel bad for him,” said McClain. “He’s the most upbeat person I’ve seen.”
McClain understands the life altering impact Wilson’s diagnosis will have on his long term health, and notes the key important differences and advancements in NFL player safety for making his diagnosis possible.
“I think football is way different than back in the day, offered McClain. “Back then, players would keep things to themselves. Whether it was a mixture of toughness and ignorance, or however you want to see it. People are really aware of their body and the significance of the long-term effects. People are sharing that information with trainers because they are on top of it. These are world-class people that we have taking care of us. There’s no need to hide those small details that can help you in the long-run.”