Giants' Darren Waller announces retirement from the NFL following health scare, Kelsey Plum divorce filing

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NFL tight end Darren Waller is calling it a career, informing the New York Giants of his retirement plans, CBS Sports confirmed. The 31-year-old played for the Ravens, Raiders and one season with the Giants, and had been absent from Organized Team Activities this offseason.

“We have great respect for Darren as a person and player. We wish him nothing but the best,” the Giants said in a statement.

Waller shed light on the circumstances behind his retirement in a video posted to YouTube, recounting a fever he caught in November that he said left him shaking uncontrollably, unable to breathe and in the hospital for three and a half days.

“I almost just lost my life, and I don’t know if I really feel like if I would have died, that I would have felt great about how my life was going,” Waller said in the video. “It’s kind of forced me into a position to reevaluate, you know? I’ve made the decision that I’ll be retiring from the NFL.”

Waller was selected in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, and struggled early on with drug addiction, resulting in a suspension for the entire 2017 NFL season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

“I didn’t really have a lot of value for myself,” Waller told NFL Films about that period of his life. “I was like, I know I need to change. But changing seemed so hard at the time, and I wasn’t willing to do the work.”

After a stint in rehab and a job stocking shelves at a grocery store, Waller returned to the NFL. His career highlights came in a 5-year stint with the Raiders, both in Oakland and Las Vegas. In 2019 and 2020 the tight end posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, culminating in a 2020 Pro Bowl selection.

Waller also made headlines for his rollercoaster romance with fellow Las Vegas sports star Kelsey Plum. The pair got married in 2023, and subsequently filed for divorce in April.

“I’m devastated,” Plum, who plays for the Las Vegas Aces, posted on social media the day of the filing. “I walked through fire for that man, but now I see it’s time to go.”

Waller, the great-grandson of jazz composer Thomas “Fats” Waller, has been expressing himself in other ways. He released a music video at the end of May titled “Who Knew (Her Perspective).” In it, a woman bearing a passing resemblance to Plum stabs Waller in the back, leaving him for dead on a beach.

“I’m somebody that will always have multiple passions, multiple ways of expressing myself. And it’s very common for me to outgrow certain passions,” Waller said in his retirement video. “The worst possible thing for a manifesting generator, somebody like me, would be to think that I am supposed to choose one lane of life, one path, and stick with it like most of the world does.”