Darren Waller reflects on divorce and retirement, says he had to 'look in the mirror'


This year has been a whirlwind for Darren Waller.

The former NFL tight end contemplated retirement while filing for divorce from WNBA star Kelsey Plum. Shortly after the divorce was final, he decided to call it a career.

Waller said both were equally difficult and took a toll on him mentally.

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Darren Waller of the New York Giants runs onto the field prior to a game against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium Oct. 2, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

“Both are a part of who I am, things that meant a lot to me at the time, and for them to both happen at the same time, it’s a lot of emotions you have to process,” Waller told Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club” with Charlamagne Tha God. “A lot of talking, a lot of writing, a lot of time being spent reflecting and being by yourself. 

“That’s real-life stuff, man. I’ve had a lot of success, a lot of great moments in my life. But this year has been one that really forced me to look in the mirror and dig deep and to express myself in ways that I don’t really get to. Who is Darren Waller at the core without all these things that I try to reach for, for fulfillment or validation?”

Waller said he had to “get honest or die lying” to himself.

“You kinda got to look at yourself and realize, ‘All right, what role am I playing that all the relationships in my life have always had the same patterns?’” Waller said. “Any time I’m in a relationship, I feel like I gotta dance or do a certain thing to keep this person around, almost like I’m tying my self-worth to the success of a relationship. And you realize how much you lose yourself and doing the things that you love and things that take care of you on a daily basis. 

“Making this person kind of like the center of your universe and how unhealthy that is for everybody involved. Realizing that, realizing the impact that it was having on me, as far as making decisions that were authentic for the life that I wanted, these are things that I couldn’t say 100% yes to. You have certain conversations and realize there’s so much life ahead of both of us. You might as well just go ahead and live it and move on with no type of hostility.

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Kelsey Plum of the Las Vegas Aces reacts with husband Darren Waller after defeating the New York Liberty during Game 4 of the 2023 WNBA Finals at Barclays Center Oct. 18, 2023, in New York City. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

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“I like to think I [had that conversation with myself], but there’s certain situations where I didn’t really have that self-awareness,” he added. “That’s present in other areas of my life, as well, where I thought I was ready to have a commitment like that and be involved. But, really, there’s a part of me, the pursuit, the chase, the building of it seemed more appealing than when things get extremely difficult, and the same patterns continue to come out. It’s like, at the end of the day, you gotta heal, or the same things are going to continue to happen.”

A month after their divorce, Waller released a song, “Who Knew (Her Perspective).”

“Creating always provides a mirror for me to grow and heal. So, I give you a song written to me, by me,” Waller wrote on an Instagram post announcing the song.

Waller has always made music, but now that his football days are over, he says he could be taking it a bit more seriously.

“I feel something, in a way, like spiritually pulling me in that direction. I don’t have any expectations with it, but I believe in myself and the growth that I’m having as an artist and stuff I’m going to be putting out. So, something I want to definitely devote time to among a lot of other things,” he said.

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New York Giants tight end Darren Waller after a game against the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Dec 31, 2023. (Brad Penner-USA Today Sports)

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Waller became an All-Pro tight end with the Raiders before spending his final season with the Giants.

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