Missing time made it harder for Darren Waller to stay sober

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
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One of the best stories in recent years has been authored by Raiders tight end Darren Waller, who has fought through addiction to become one of the best players in the NFL. He has missed time in recent weeks due to injury and COVID. On Wednesday, he explained that not playing has made it harder to remain sober.

“Because of my disease of addiction, that can have me thinking all kinds of crazy things,” Waller said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. “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 [Alcoholics Anonymous] 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.”

But since he wasn’t in the game, potentially destructive thoughts tried to enter his brain.

“It’s tough, honestly, because I’m a human being at the end of the day and I’m still trying to shed my old thinking patterns,” Waller said. “So, when I’m not out there [playing], I can think these thoughts of, ‘The team is balling without me being in there. Am I useless?’ These irrational thoughts.

“I had to be willing to stay in the practices that I have that bring me back down from that place — ‘Woah, woah, woah, it’s not even that anymore.’ I’m not out there performing, per se, but I still have a role on this team. But sometimes my mind can tell me, ‘Ah, man, you ain’t really doing nothing. You out.’

“So it’s just staying locked in. I have to do that because my mind can take me to those places. And I don’t want to be there anymore.”

It’s great that he’s willing to be so candid about his struggles. It helps others who are experiencing similar things to realize that there’s a constant challenge. Ups and downs, highs and lows. Hard days and harder days.

Waller’s willingness to talk about his harder days could help make days a little easier for those who are looking for any inspiration they can find to help them fight their own battles.

18 responses to “Missing time made it harder for Darren Waller to stay sober

  1. The more Darren Waller shares about himself and his process the more I like and respect him. Keeping it real and staying strong!

  2. Im a life long Chiefs fan but am an alcoholic. Now Im a life long Darren Waller fan, stay strong brother!

  3. Darren, getting on the wagon was the hardest part, staying on it for yourself, your family, friends AND everyone rooting for you should be a bit easier !!! We’re with you !!!

  4. I like that he is staying sober. What fills that void that football is going to leave once he doesn’t play anymore?

  5. Really rooting for this guy ever since I learned his story when he was on Hard Knocks before he emerged as an NFL star. His willingness to be so open and honest is rare. Wish him nothing but success in life.

  6. You got this, Darren. You’ve hit the lows and know what that’s like. Use that as motivation to stay in top.

  7. Take one day at a time. Waller is an inspiration to me, I can relate, being a addict in recover also. Keep the faith and trust in. Your Higher Power. We in this together. Much Love and respect for Waller.

  8. Stay strong in sobriety, DW. One route at a time, one block at a time, one catch at a time, one day at a time!

  9. As open as he is about this sure makes him an easy guy to root for. It’s clear the struggle never ends for so many. I heard Craig Ferguson in a talk show interview mention “if I make it until Saturday, I will be 20 years sober”. The host asked what was happening before Saturday that was going to tempt him. He said “Nothing, it’s just that today is only f’n Tuesday”. He wasn’t even trying to be funny, just emphasizing that it is truly a day by day thing that can go south at any minute, even after many years of sobriety.
    Good on all who are fighting this fight! Stay strong!

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