How Darren Waller’s recent injuries from the Raiders have affected his struggle for sobriety: “I’m still trying to get rid of my old patterns of thinking”

Darren Waller missed a match during his first two seasons as a starter for the Raiders. That changed in 2021, when he missed five games due to knee injuries, back injuries and a short stay on the COVID list.

Missing time is not easy for any NFL player, but it has proved especially difficult for Waller. While the Raiders are preparing for Wild Card vs. Bengals, a 29-year-old tense man, opened his struggles with substance abuse and addiction when he was out of lineup.

“Because of my addiction illness, it can make me think of all sorts of crazy things,” Waller said, according to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. “So I have to make sure I talk about those things when I have all that idle time. I have my therapist. [A.A.] meeting. He stayed on the playbook. Working on music. Just staying firm, keeping my head out of that idle time and doing things I enjoy. And stay in football as much as you can. “

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Waller has been open about his games in the past – almost derailing his NFL career. During his time at Ravens, he passed several drug tests and was suspended twice, skipping four games in 2016 and serving in the entire season in 2017.

“I sabotaged the whole thing myself,” Waller said of the failed tests in an interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post in September 2020. they came out of my misery, so I literally organized it, because that’s how I wanted to get away and just be. ” alone.”

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However, Waller’s suspension of 2017 served as something like an alarm clock. He has been sober and hard working for more than four years to stay sober. This includes internal battles that he fought during his recent inactivity.

“It’s hard, honestly, because I’m human at the end of the day and I’m still trying to get rid of my old thinking patterns,” Waller told ESPN. “So if I’m not there [playing]”I can think of these thoughts:” The team plays the ball without being there. Am I useless? ‘ These irrational thoughts.

“I had to be willing to stay in the practices I have that bring me back from that place – ‘Wow, woah, woah, that’s not it anymore.’ I don’t act there on my own, but I still have a role in this team. But sometimes my mind can tell me, ‘Oh, you’re not really doing anything. You are out.’

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

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Waller returned to the field for the Raiders in week 18 and recorded two catches at 22 yards. He will now have a chance to play his first playoff game on Saturday as the Raiders travel to Cincinnati against the Bengals.

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