Darren Waller’s journey to NFL prominence hasn’t been an unlikely one.
Previously suspended for the entire 2017 season because of failing two drug tests, Waller has had to experience dark days. Through that, he’s now three years sober and at the top of his game.
Raiders Coach Jon Gruden highlighted that and more when he was asked about his star tight end last week. “We think he’s a superstar,” Gruden said.
“We think he’s a great tight end. I know two tight ends got paid a lot of money (Travis Kelce and George Kittle on Thursday). We’re happy to have our guy. He can do it all. He can block, he can run any route and he’s got great stamina.”
Waller did step up and provide a superstar season last year, putting up career highs of 90 catches for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. It was a gratifying year for a player who had worked so hard to regain what might have at one point seemed like a lost opportunity.
Gruden didn’t forget to mention those details either, saying: “He had a dark portion of his life there for a while that not a lot of people come back from.
“I hope a lot of young people out there get the real story behind Waller. You can beat addiction. If you just listen to Darren Waller and how he did it, he’s a great source of, I think, leadership and proof that you can be great, even though you’ve had some really dark, dark times.”
From a writer who has seen his own family and friends deal with addiction, it’s powerful to see a story like Waller’s celebrated. He could get his life back and now can say he’s one of the best at what he does. It’s an inspiring story that will hopefully touch many others going through their struggles.
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