Giants’ Darren Waller Talks Cowboys Loss, Raiders, Injury and More in B/R Interview

Giants’ Darren Waller Talks Cowboys Loss, Raiders, Injury and More in B/R Interview

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 18: Darren Waller #12 of the New York Giants runs onto the field against the Carolina Panthers during the first half at MetLife Stadium on Friday, August 18, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Perry Knotts/Getty Images)

Perry Knotts/Getty Images

It’s difficult to imagine a more deflating way to start a season than a 40-0 home loss to a division rival, but Darren Waller wants New York Giants fans to understand one thing.

The NFL season is a long journey that is not defined by one loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

“I will tell Giants fans it’s a process,” the star tight end told Bleacher Report. “We don’t judge people off of one day, however good or however bad they are. We judge them off of how they respond to adversity and how they move about their journey. We still have 16 more games on our journey. We’re not going to ride the roller-coaster of emotion, and we hope you guys stay consistent with us.”

A roller-coaster of emotion would be one way to describe Sunday for Giants fans.

There was plenty of anticipation going into the season opener considering it was at home and against one of their main competitors for an NFC East crown. New York made the playoffs a season ago, and starting off with a win over Dallas would have been the perfect way to begin the push toward another postseason spot.

Yet the Cowboys quickly spoiled the party.

The visitors tallied seven sacks, two interceptions, five forced fumbles, one interception return for a touchdown and one blocked field goal returned for a touchdown in a display of defensive and special teams dominance.

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Waller was New York’s leading receiver, but he had just three catches for 36 yards. It’s safe to say there is plenty to clean up for the Giants ahead of their Week 2 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

“From a team standpoint, there’s a lot of small things and simple things that we can do better overall,” he said. “When those things aren’t executed properly, things can start to get away from you. We know that a lot of those things are in our control, whether it be penalties, whether it be holding onto the football, blocking. It’s all on everybody, especially from an offensive standpoint. And we know that going into this weekend. Just excited to get another crack at it.”

There was one silver lining for Waller.

While he dealt with a hamstring injury leading up to the contest, he ended up playing in the game with no further setbacks. That was a significant development since he appeared in just nine games last year for the Las Vegas Raiders in large part because of hamstring concerns.

“I gained a little bit of confidence as far as going into a game, a little bit mentally unsure as far as how I would hold up with the tightness in my hamstring,” he said. “But playing through that game, I felt fine. That was encouraging for me as the journey goes along.”

He also stressed that there was “nothing in the game that upset it or set it back in any way. Excited to move forward and put it behind me.”

Fortunately for Waller, he has something to help put that pain behind him.

He is part of Icy Hot’s team of athlete representatives that also includes United States Women’s National Team star Rose Lavelle, tennis player Sloane Stephens and basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.

They are encouraging athletes of all levels to use the company’s product to help manage pain and perform at their best.

“Icy Hot has stepped in and been reliable for the aches and pains of the day-to-day process of being an NFL player,” Waller said. “It’s rough, it’s not for everybody. A lot of nicks and bruises. Icy Hot helps me out tremendously, it’s something I’ve had in my repertoire for a couple years now. I’m excited about spreading the message for them because a lot of people love to do physical activities even if they’re not professional athletes. They need some things to get through the pain, too.”

While athletes of all levels can use Icy Hot, there aren’t many who compete at a higher level than the tight end.

He was not a primary contributor for the Baltimore Ravens after they drafted him out of Georgia Tech in 2015, but things turned around for him after the Oakland Raiders signed him off the AFC North team’s practice squad in November 2018.

His breakthrough campaign came in 2019 when he posted 90 catches for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns, and he was a Pro Bowler the following year with 107 catches for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns.


Look up “beast” in any dictionary. 📚
You should see a picture of Darren Waller.

Roll the highlights.

Injuries in 2021 and 2022 prevented him from fully building on those back-to-back seasons of more than 1,000 yards, and the Raiders ended up trading him to New York in March 2023 not long after they gave him a three-year, $51 million contract extension ahead of that 2022 campaign.

Waller might make Las Vegas regret that move when the Giants play at the Raiders in Week 9 on Nov. 5.

“It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to just because there will be a lot of different emotions,” he said. “I have a lot of good memories playing for the Raiders and in front of the fans. Just a lot of good years. Getting traded doesn’t take that away at all.

“It’ll be weird to see a lot of the guys I played with on the other side. But outside of that, I just want to play a football game. Trying to stick it to the Raiders or anything like that, those kinds of thoughts or emotions would more so drain me or distract me than they would help me focus on doing my job at a high level. My emotions will be all over the place, just because of the gratitude and good memories. But I’m looking forward to that game like every other one.”

There don’t seem to be any lingering hard feelings regarding the trade, and coming to New York also provided him with an opportunity to work on one of his other loves in his music.

“One of the best parts for me is making some of the best music I’ve ever made,” Waller said when asked about the transition to New York outside of just football. “The studio I go to is right across the river. I found a cool studio, have a good relationship with the engineer there. I feel like I’ve been cranking out some of my best stuff. That has me over the moon.”

He said “the world will hear it” in October or November when he drops his next album.

But before that, he and the Giants will look to bounce back from their opening loss and live up to some of the sky-high expectations that were in place for a team that won a playoff game over the Minnesota Vikings just last season.

The addition of Waller contributed to those expectations, as it gave New York a much-needed presence in the aerial attack for when opposing defenses crowd the box to deal with Saquon Barkley and a quarterback who can run in Daniel Jones.

“Football-wise, with the organization, it’s been such a great fit,” Waller said. “From teammates to coaches to staff. Couldn’t be any better.”

That sounds like a formula for plenty of wins, even if the season got off to a disappointing start.

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