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NFL Man of the Year Nominees 2021 | Raiders |

Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) poses for a photo while serving and sharing nutritious meals with first and second grade students at Jack Dailey Elementary.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) poses for a photo while serving and sharing nutritious meals with first and second grade students at Jack Dailey Elementary.

Darren Waller


Table inside Article
Position College Years in the NFL
Tight End Georgia Tech 5

Demonstrates Excellence on The Field

In his third full season with the Raiders after entering the NFL with Baltimore in 2015, Darren Waller worked his way into the conversation as arguably the best tight end in the game. In 2020, he earned Pro Bowl honors after setting career highs in receptions (107), receiving yards (1,196), and receiving TDs (nine) while tying his team record of 100-yard contests (five) from the previous year. With 107 receptions, he broke Pro Football Hall of Fame WR Tim Brown's franchise record for most catches in a single season (104 in 1997). He became the sixth tight end in NFL history to log over 100 receptions in a single season and his 107 receptions rank third all-time among tight ends in NFL history.

Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts this Year

In 2021, Darren continued his commitment to the community that began when he joined the Raiders late in 2018. Most recently, Darren was honored during one of the most prominent community fundraising events in Las Vegas with the "Tyler Robinson Foundation Inspiration" award during the Rise Up Gala.

Darren, through his foundation, conducted a concert of his own, called "A Concert to Shine On," which brought to life his passion for music and equipping youth with knowledge on how to avoid and overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol. The headliner for the event was none other than the foundation's founder Darren Waller. This summer, Darren continued his dedication to giving back in a number of ways. He hosted a youth football camp for children grades 3-8 from in-need communities around Las Vegas. He shared his story of overcoming drug addiction and having a successful career in the NFL with youth who are part of the Chef Jeff Project which teaches culinary and life skills to North Las Vegas teens who have been in prison, foster care, or are struggling socially.

As part of a Make-A-Wish presentation, Darren took the time to send virtual well wishes and offered support to a child with terminal cancer whose favorite team is the Raiders and his family. He was also part of a virtual greeting that went to Las Vegas area seniors for their 2021 high school graduations. He shared his lived experiences during a mental health discussion with a panel of NFL players as part of the "Kicking the Stigma" initiative. The initiative is supported by players across the League as a unified effort to use their platforms to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts in Years Past

In 2020, Darren served and shared nutritious meals with 1st and 2nd-grade students at Jack Dailey Elementary, a Title I school in Las Vegas, to learn how to fuel up for a successful school day. After serving lunch to the students, Darren spent quality time with the children. He filmed a segment on peer pressure, bullying, and overcoming addiction for the DEA 360 Program launch of their Truth Not Talk Video Challenge. This video was incorporated into Clark County School District curriculum in recognition of Red Ribbon Week.

Last year, as part of the team's Crucial Catch activations, Darren joined members of the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada "Teen Scene," a social networking group of teens who have been diagnosed with cancer or are in remission. He filmed a video message discussing the importance of mental health for the Rising Hope Festival. The annual festival is a day for those struggling with mental health to find resources and community and campaigns to reverse the youth suicide rate of Nevada.

Darren engaged with students from Oakland's Futures and CUES at Lockwood Elementary School, leading over 100 students through various stretch routines and football drills while also promoting the Play 60 message of being active for 60 minutes every day. He was part of a literacy push, engaging with students from Davis Street Family Resource Center at Roosevelt Elementary School in San Leandro. Each student received three books to take home from the nonprofit First Book.

Darren volunteered at the Alameda County Community Food Bank's Mobile Pantry where he sorted and distributed food to low-income families in San Leandro. The Mobile Pantry truck visits dozens of neighborhood schools, parks, and wellness centers each month. As part of Day of Giving, Darren visited young patients and their families at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland and helped Santa pass out toys for the holidays. He interacted with patients and their families in the cafeteria and made bedside visits to pass out Raiders-themed items. Darren lent his assistance and support to a Salute to Service event with Flags of Valor. In Fairfield, California, Travis Air Force Base families were treated to an afternoon of flag building with Flags of Valor. This veteran-owned and operated organization builds American flags out of wood.

Demonstrates Consistency in Positive Character and Models a Lifestyle of Giving Back

Darren founded the Waller Foundation in 2020 to equip youth with knowledge on how to avoid and overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol and support individuals and their families during their recovery and treatment journey. Darren created the foundation to give back and give others a chance for recovery and success. This is personal for Darren as he too faced addiction challenges that nearly cost him his football career and his life.

"There's nothing better than serving other people," said Darren. "Catching a touchdown doesn't compare at all to somebody saying they were impacted by my story. It's on a whole different level." Darren is next level when it comes to his effort to make life better for others. "Football is my platform, and I respect it, but this is what life's all about."

Darren's foundation is multi-dimensional in its approach to assisting the community and is derived from his personal journey. His "Wall Talks" focuses on the fact that students who lack positive adult influences, experience changing social environments, and do not fit in socially, are at a higher risk of engaging in substance abuse and misuse. His awareness campaigns are directed at students who need help understanding the consequences of substance misuse and abuse. This program will leverage Darren's platform, experiences and the experiences of others to help students have the motivation and confidence to make good decisions.