Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller admitted being out of the lineup presented an added challenge in his battle to maintain his sobriety. Waller, who battled alcohol and substance abuse in the past, is three years sober.
Waller returned to the lineup last Sunday after missing five games. "Because of my disease of addiction, that can have me thinking all kinds of crazy things," Waller said, per ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. "So, I've got to make sure that I'm talking about those things when I have all that idle time.
I've got my therapist. Stay going to [A.A.] meetings. Stayed in the playbook. Working on music. Just staying solid, keeping my head out of that idle time and just into things that I enjoy. And stay into the game of football as much as I can."
Waller was named to the Pro Bowl this season
"It’s pretty unbelievable,” Waller said after being named to the Pro Bowl in late December. "For the second straight year, Waller is statistically among the best tight ends in the NFL.
"Honestly, I never really thought anything like this would happen,” Waller continued. “This was never my goal. I never really had big goals or anything. Just to be here is definitely a blessing. I’m speechless right now, reflecting on life and everything that I’ve been through.
It’s an incredible experience and I appreciate the people and players and coaches who had a vote in considering me. I really appreciate them all respecting how I play." A few months ago, Waller opened up about some of his childhood struggles.
"When I was a teenager, I was a real sensitive kid," Waller told CBS Sports. "I didn't really fit in much, and that kinda bothered me, so when I was 15, I started doing drugs and drinking and stuff. It was my way of kinda making friends and living out my emotions.
I thought that drugs were just the recipe for me to get through the stress. I know I became addicted quickly." Waller failed multiple drug tests during his time with the Baltimore Ravens as he served suspension in 2016 and 2017.
“I sabotaged that whole thing myself,” Waller said of the failed tests in a Sept. 2020 interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post. “I willingly failed my tests to be put out of the league because in my mind I’d rather have them put me out of my misery, so I literally orchestrated that to happen ’cause that’s how much I wanted to get away and just be by myself”.