New York Giants tight end Darren Waller announced his retirement from football on Sunday, expressing that while he had “found a lot of joy” in the sport, “the passion has slowly been fading.”

In a nearly 18-minute video posted on his YouTube channel, the 31-year-old Waller confirmed his decision to step away from the game after several months of contemplation.

The Giants had been awaiting Waller’s decision on whether he would play this season. He had not participated in the team’s offseason workouts, and mandatory minicamp begins Tuesday.

Waller recounted a “very scary” medical incident last November, following an injury sustained in a game. He recalled feeling ill and later experiencing violent shaking and difficulty breathing. He called 911 and was hospitalized for 3 1/2 days.

“I almost just lost my life and didn’t know if I would have felt great about how my life was going if I died at the time,” Waller said. “I’m doing something that I found a lot of joy in and have had amazing moments with, but the passion has slowly been fading.”

This experience prompted Waller to re-evaluate his life and ultimately decide to retire from the NFL.

Waller, who had been plagued by hamstring issues over the past three years, was limited to 12 games last season, recording 52 catches for 552 yards and a touchdown in his only season with the Giants. He was due to make $10.5 million in 2024 and count $14.1 million against the salary cap. His retirement will save the Giants $11.6 million in cap space, with a $2.5 million hit in dead money.

Drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, Waller overcame early struggles with drug addiction to become one of the NFL’s top tight ends. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and again for the entire 2017 season for a second violation.

Waller has been candid about his battles with addiction, depression, and anxiety.

“I’m eternally grateful for the game of football,” he said. “The NFL offered me an opportunity to save my life and go to rehab. They also gave me a chance to reestablish myself, be a leader, and make a difference.”

Waller concluded his career with 350 receptions, 4,124 receiving yards, and 20 touchdowns in 86 games. He played for the Ravens and Raiders before spending his final season with the Giants, who acquired him in an offseason trade.

“We have great respect for Darren as a person and player,” the Giants said in a statement. “We wish him nothing but the best.”

After being waived by the Ravens before the 2018 season, Waller joined the Raiders’ practice squad and had a breakout performance in 2019 and 2020, with a combined 197 catches for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for the 2020 season.

Waller married WNBA star guard Kelsey Plum in March 2023, but they filed for divorce in April.

To prepare for Waller’s potential absence, New York drafted Penn State tight end Theo Johnson in the fourth round and also has returning tight ends Daniel Bellinger and Lawrence Cager. Additionally, the team signed veteran Chris Manhertz in free agency.