Darren Waller reveals near-death experience in Giants retirement video

Darren Waller revealed Sunday that he experienced an unspecified emergency medical event during last Giants’ season that left him concerned he might be dying.

In announcing his retirement on a YouTube video, Waller shared that he was hospitalized early last November after calling paramedics to his North Jersey apartment when he had trouble breathing.

Waller is a drug and alcohol addict who got sober after an overdose in 2017 and became 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 came back from a one-year suspension from the NFL in 2017 to become a Pro Bowl tight end for the Raiders.

He was acquired by the Giants in March 2023 and his one season in East Rutherford was disrupted by a hamstring injury on Oct. 29.

The next week, while driving home from shooting a video for his burgeoning musical career, Waller began to feel feverish and thought he was experiencing a third bout with COVID-19.

He was “shaking uncontrollably” and began “losing consciousness” in his room.

Giants tight end Darren Waller is retiring.
Giants tight end Darren Waller is retiring. Robert Sabo for NY Post

“I kept nodding [off] and couldn’t breathe, so I ended up calling 911,” Waller said. “I think I’m talking clearly on the phone, but they can’t make out much of what I’m saying.”

As he waited for first-responders to arrive and supply an oxygen mask, Waller said he stumbled to the couch.

“I’m there breathing deeply and in between each breath, I’m yelling out, ‘Help!’ ” Waller said. “So maybe I could wake the neighbors up. I don’t know how long the time was — it felt like forever — and I’m like, ‘Damn, I’m dying on this couch and nobody knows.’ It was kind of similar to my overdose — like the power plug being pulled out and I couldn’t breathe anymore.”

The incident sheds some light on Waller’s decision to walk away from $35 million over the final three years on his contract. He said he has maintained his sobriety.

“I’m doing something [football] that I found a lot of joy in … but the passion has slowly been fading,” Waller said. “I feel like I spent most of my life doing what I should be doing. I’ve been a people-pleaser my whole life — somebody that has struggled with worth, confidence, feeling valuable.”

Darren Waller
Darren Waller AP

The Giants’ medical staff attended to Waller as he needed. He returned to the field Dec. 17.

“Thank you to the Giants,” Waller said. “Welcomed me in, making me feel like family and giving me an opportunity to reflect in this time and make a decision.”

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