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NFL’s Darren Waller Announces Retirement After Near-Death Experience



Darren Waller
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

New York Giants player Darren Waller is hanging up his jersey and saying goodbye to the NFL.

“I’ve decided to retire from the game of football,” Waller, 31, wrote via Instagram on Sunday, June 9. “To God: what a journey, and thank you. We took it way farther than I ever could have imagined! So grateful for all the ppl I’ve been able to connect and create memories with along the way. We still got plenty more life left to live. Love you all. Peace.”

Waller informed the Giants of his decision before the start of their mini camp, which is expected to start Tuesday, June 11.

In a separate YouTube video, the NFL tight end — who split from WNBA All-Star Kelsey Plum in April after one year of marriage — described a medical situation off the field last season that “forced me into a position to re-evaluate.”

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Waller said that in November 2023, he began experiencing symptoms of fever, chills and shaking. After he struggled to breathe, the athlete decided to call 911.

“It was a very scary situation. I ended up going to the hospital for three and a half days,” he recalled. “It was an experience that would sober somebody up and make them think, at least.”

NFL Star Darren Waller Announces Retirement After Near-Death Experience 2

Darren Waller #12 of the New York Giants scores a touchdown in the second quarter of the game against the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium on October 22, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

For Waller, who struggled with drug and alcohol abuse before getting sober in 2017, the experience shifted his perspective on life.

“I go back into my daily life, and it’s pretty clear I almost just lost my life,” he said. “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. I’m doing something that I found a lot of joy in and had amazing moments with, but the passion has slowly been fading.”

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Although Waller didn’t share his diagnosis, he made it clear that his passions in life have changed. Now, it’s time to step away from the football field and explore other things like his continued mental health advocacy work.

“The worst possible thing for somebody like me would be to think that I am supposed to choose one lane of life,” he explained, “one path and stick with it like most of the world does.”

In response to Waller’s news, the Giants released a statement to Yahoo Sports that read, “We have great respect for Darren as a person and player. We wish him nothing but the best.”

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