In a tweet sent out by James Wilder Jr on December 3rd, 2022, it appears that he will no longer be part of the plans with the Edmonton Elks. Although it has not been officially announced on the Edmonton Elks website, Edmonton fans are hoping that this is not the case.
He would miss out on the remainder of the 2022 season after a week 3 loss 30-23 vs the Calgary Stampeders.
On August 18th, 2022, it was reported by the Edmonton Sun that James Wilder Jr would be done for the remainder of the 2022 season due to a neck injury that would require surgery.
“I was told by docs that my season is over and the only way I can ever play again is (by) getting neck/spine surgery,” Wilder wrote in a post from his Twitter account. “These last couple weeks have been extremely hard on me, mentally, not being out there with my brothers to lead on the field or even the practice field.
“I’ve been trying my hardest to keep busy. The smiles in public are becoming hard to do when I’m asked when I’m coming back to play, or even hard to smile at all, genuinely, since this info.
“I’ve been so numb I don’t even know how to process this to even know what I want to do.”
“This isn’t a retirement speech by any means,” Wilder said. “I’m just updating my fans with what’s going on with my career. I’m thankful and love to all.
“No sympathy needed. I’ll take the prayers though.”
Courtesy of the Edmonton Sun on August 18th, 2022
If it is the case, the Edmonton Elks will be missing out on a player that brings a lot of good to the club.
Players Have Overcome Serious Injuries in the Past
Peyton Manning had a total of four neck surgeries during his illustrious 18-year career. In his whole career, he did not play in the 2011 NFL season. Most of the surgeries prior were all in the off-season during which he had the much-needed healing time for the upcoming season.
However, during the 2011 season, he would undergo the last of his four recorded neck surgeries. Doctors also stated that they cannot guarantee the results of having to continue his career.
He would have a successful spinal fusion surgery in 2011. Then came the hard part.
Peyton Manning spends a lot of hours daily to get his villosity back on this throwing arm. And after all the sweat and tears, he would be ready again in continuing to be something that he was great at.
Only this time in 2012, he would depart the Indianapolis Colts and head to the Mille High City to play for the Denver Broncos.
It also appears that he did not miss a beat.
He would complete the 2012 season by playing all 16 regular season games, 1 playoff game, 4,559 passing yards, 37 touchdown passes, and 11 interceptions.
In 2013 he would guide the Denver Broncos to a Superbowl losing to the Seattle Seahawks in a humiliating fashion by a score of 43-8.
However, he would have his personal best of a season in which he would throw for 5,477 passing yards, 55 touchdown passes, and 10 interceptions.
In his final season in 2015, he would cap off his legacy with a Super Bowl victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Another player that comes to mind in the CFL is none other than cornerback Delvin Breaux.
If anything, it was more of a miracle that he would ever play football again while playing a high school football game in his home state of Louisiana.
During a game on October 27th, 2006, he suffered a C4, C5, and C6 fracture of his vertebrae.
After surviving the fracture, doctors indicates that it was a miracle that he was still alive.
Just like Peyton Manning, and with a more severe injury; Delvin Breaux’s would not be denied. He would spend a few years in extensive rehabilitation.
Unfortunately, he was never cleared to play for the LSU Tigers while playing college football and would be demoted to the practice squad.
By 2012, Delvin Breaux would play for the Louisiana Bayou Vipers in the Gridiron Developmental Football League where he would be an all-star.
After a brief stint in 2013 in the Arena Football League, Delvin Breaux would head north to the Canadian Football League.
In 2013, he would sign with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and would become an instant fan favourite and would become an all-star in 2014.
In 2015, he would sign with his home state team the New Orleans Saints. He would compete during his NFL stint with the New Orleans Saints with 66 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 20 pass deflections, and 3 interceptions.
Delvin Breaux’s NFL career would be cut short due to various leg and shoulder surgeries.
He would return to Steeltown to dawn the black and gold of Hamiltion again for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
After a brief retirement in 2021, and the cancelled 2020 season; Delvin Breaux would take his talents to the west coast and signed with the BC Lions for the 2022 season.
After the 2022 season, Delvin Breaux announced his retirement from pro football on November 16th, 2022.
Why Edmonton Dropped the Ball on This One
The obvious answer by the Edmonton Elks to James Wilder Jr is that they feel the injury and surgery needed will take an abundance of time for rehabilitation. Moreover, they feel that he will not be the same player he once was.
And rightfully so.
With that said, James Wilder Jr was still under contract for the 2023 season. It would not have hurt to place him on long-term injury reserve for the 2023 season.
His work ethic speaks for itself. He is a fitness fanatic. He will be rehabbing his body after the necessary surgery at some point this season.
Although he has only been in the CFL since 2017 (minus the 2020 cancelled season), his presence on the field is second to none. He is a gifted running back that is a triple back in running, blocking and catching.
During the 2021 season, he was one of the very few bright spots for the Elks in engineering an offensive threat against any defense.
With the late surge in Kevin Brown being the main ball carrier for the Edmonton Elks, can you imagine how good this running attack could be with the presence of James Wilder Jr when he is healthy and cleared to play?
We will never know if this is the case with James Wilder Jr ever playing for the green and gold in the City of Champions.
At the end of the day, it is about the health and well-being of James Wilder Jr that is paramount for the time being.
It was a sad day for Toronto Argonauts fans when he tested the free agent market to sign with the Montreal Alouettes for the cancelled 2020 season. And it is a sad day for Edmonton Elks fans in which one of the heart and soul players on the squad is now gone.
Get well soon James Wilder Jr. You are a fun player to watch, and more importantly a great person off the field.
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