Cobb County

Former Cobb, Georgia Tech standout retires from NFL after recent health scare

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A former Cobb County and Georgia Tech football standout announced his retirement from the National Football League after a recent health scare.

Darren Waller, who attend North Cobb High School, posted videos on his Instagram and YouTube pages on Sunday where he opened up about the decision to retire from playing football at age 31.

He played for the Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders and New York Giants.

“I sat down and discussed everything that’s gone into my decision (which you can find on my Youtube channel), but I’ve decided to retire from the game of football. 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 wrote on Instagram.

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On his YouTube page, the tight end went into further detail on “a very scary situation” in November. Waller, who has produced music on the side, said he was filming a music video in New Jersey when he started to get sick and couldn’t breathe.

Waller didn’t say what his doctors found out, but he ended up staying in the hospital for nearly four days.

“I come out of that experience and I’m sitting in the hospital, and I go back into my daily life and I’m like, ‘Pretty clear, I almost just lost my life, and I don’t know if I really feel if I would have died that I would have felt great about how my life was going if I died at that time.’”


Waller has been open about his battle with addiction to oxycodone and cocaine that he says started when he was a teenager. He served a year-long suspension during the Baltimore Ravens’ 2017 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

He completed a rehab program and joined the Oakland Raiders, where he played from 2018 until 2022 before he joined the New York Giants last year.

During his time with the Raiders, he started the Darren Waller Foundation to help young people avoid and overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol.

In his video announcement on Sunday, Waller said he is “eternally grateful” for football.

“I wouldn’t be able to have this conversation or to think things through or be self-reflective if it wasn’t for an opportunity to save my life and go to rehab, which the NFL offered me,” he said. “They also gave me an opportunity to reestablish myself to come back into the world and do something productive, provide an example, be a leader, be a difference maker in my craft, but also just in the day to day wherever I go.”

The Giants issued a statement saying they have “great respect for Darren as a person and player” and wished him the best in retirement.

Waller finished his career with 350 receptions for 4,124 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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