Darren Waller Reveals Near-Death Experience During Retirement Annoucement

By Jason Hall

June 10, 2024

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants
Photo: Getty Images

Former Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller revealed a near-death experience that took place during his lone season with the New York Giants last year in a YouTube video announcing his retirement on Sunday (June 9).

Waller, 31, said he suffered an unspecified emergency medical event and was hospitalized after calling paramedics to his North Jersey apartment after experiencing trouble breathing last November. The former Pro Bowler had a history with drug and alcohol addiction, but has been sober ever since an overdose in 2017 and served as an advocate for mental health.

“It was a very scary situation,” Waller said. “I ended up going to the hospital for 3 ½ days. Couldn’t stand up and … use the bathroom or feed myself. It was an experience that would sober somebody up and make them think, at least.

“I say all that because … I go back into my daily life, and it’s pretty clear I almost just lost my life. And I don’t know if I really feel like I would’ve felt great about how my life was going if I died at the time.”

Waller was selected by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 204 overall in the sixth-round of the 2015 NFL Draft and was initially suspended for four games during the 2016 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy before being given a one-year suspension without pay in 2017. The former Georgia Tech standout was reinstated in 2018 and signed by the then-Oakland Raiders off the Ravens' practice squad later in the season.

Waller's past battle with substance abuse was a featured topic on the HBO docuseries Hard Knocks chronicling the Raiders' training camp in 2019, which was followed by a breakout season that same year and a Pro Bowl campaign in 2020, recording a career-best 107 receptions, 1,196 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns.

Waller was traded to the Giants for a compensatory 2023 third-round pick that the team previously acquired when it traded wide receiver Kadarius Toney to the Kansas City Chiefs. The 31-year-old recorded 52 receptions for 552 yards and one touchdown in 2023.

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