By Jeffery Scott / @jeffesquire
What is your biggest dream?
What is that one audacious goal that if achieved, you’d feel content? What if you attained that dream and in a short time that dream became something you could not continue? Not because you couldn’t physically perform the duties required, but because in its simplest form someone else took that dream from you?
On October 6th, 2013 the New York Giants Faced the Philadelphia Eagles in an early NFC East Showdown. Running back David Wilson scored early on a 5-yard touchdown run, which he celebrated by doing a double back flip. He was poised to have a great day.
But on the final play of the first quarter, Wilson took a carry that was snuffed out by the Eagles defense. They drove him back into the endzone, and defensive end Cedric Thornton whipped him to the ground.
Wilson stayed on the ground momentarily, then got on one knee. It was clear he was shaken up. What no one knew at the time, was that would be the beginning of the end of Wilson’s football career.
Wilson suffered from diffuse cervical stenosis, which can impair your motor skills, hearing and vision, etc. After re-aggravating the injury in training camp a few days ago, doctors worried that he could possibly do more damage to his spine and advised him to retire from the game.
As he stepped to the podium Thursday to announce his retirement, Wilson emanated an aura of maturity. He spoke with a confidence that is rare to find in most 23 year olds. Yes. The man is only 23.
“Everything hasn’t been smooth sailing for me hardly ever. I try to put the smile on my face and make other people happy. And that’s what I enjoy in life. I continue living. And when life knocks you down, I always say, plan to land on your back. Because if you look up you can get up.” — David Wilson
As he said those words, it struck me. This is me.
At the age of 23, I had done most of what I set out to do. I worked at Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic which covered all of my favorite teams. I wrote and had my writings published. And grandest of all, I was hired to work at ESPN. The holy grail. The sports mecca. I thought I had made it, relatively speaking.
But then there’s this thing called layoffs. And unfortunately for over 400 people that worked for the company, they had to experience it in 2013. I was in the first wave, being let go earlier than most. It is to this day one of the darkest days of my life. Not only because I felt I let myself down, I felt I let my family and friends down. How, at a young age do you recover from that?
You just do. Having a woe is me attitude will get you absolutely nowhere that you want to be. And as Wilson continued to speak and get emotional, I did too.I felt him. I remember how that affected me, albeit vastly different circumstances. Wilson said something that I will never forget:
“These are just tears of joy, because as I speak I realize how much people have helped me along the way.” Wilson explained tearfully. “And when you press the pause button, you can look at all that.”
That is what the next step is all about. Remembering all the folks who gave support, encouragement, and advice along the way. Realizing that just because one dream is over, it has nothing to do with the next. What is Wilson’s next step? Only he and God knows.
“I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me or pity me,” Wilson proclaimed. “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.”
What we all can draw from this 23-year old man is the hope that no matter what goes wrong, we have a choice. We can either hold to the fantasy of a dream that’s been deferred, or the reality that we have the power and ability to dream again.
Keep dreaming folks.