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From Rehab to the Raiders - The Recovery Journey of Darren Waller

Updated: Sep 3


"Opiates, Oxy, pills, stuff like that, Xanax, cocaine," were the drugs that Raiders starting tight end Darren Waller admitted to being completely hooked on.


”Sophomore year in high school," he said. "It was in a friend's medicine cabinet, and you like the feeling of it, you keep doing it, and for me, I wasn't as anxious, I wasn't worried about what everyone thought of me. It was a numbing tool. I don't want to feel all these things I'm feeling. That's how I started," Waller revealed in an interview with ESPN.


Waller went further and said that if he had continued down that road he would probably be in jail, a mental institution, or dead, "it was that bad."


In 2016 Waller got hit with a four game suspension for failed drug tests and then a year long suspension for the entire 2017 season after more failed drug tests.


It was the day after his 25th birthday that he went to a detox and then directly to a 30 day treatment facility, "that was a life-changing thing," he expressed.


He left treatment with little desire to ever play football again, and at one point was bagging groceries. After a brief time away from the NFL, he ended up coming back and giving it shot.

After spending the 2018 season on the Ravens practice squad he got a chance with the Raiders. He not only made the roster, but earned the starting spot.

Waller opened up about the between the scenes struggles with addiction in the HBO Series Hard Knocks. Where the film crew went as fast as follow him into a 12 step meeting.


Waller recently celebrated two years of recovery and has become an unofficial spokesman for addiction and recovery in the NFL.

Not only is he back in the league and starting for the Raiders. He is having a breakout season, and considered an emerging star.

Waller lives in gratitude these days, “I feel like I’m at a place in my life where I can build off of that and make the most of my abilities and what God gave me. That’s just what I plan on doing.”


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