Even in the era of the social media boom, New York City is still considered the biggest market where the attention can be on an athlete 24/7, which is what Darren Waller is walking himself into with the New York Giants.
Is the Pro Bowler ready for the upcoming endless scrutiny?
Darren Waller Reacts To Receiving the NYC Attention
Speaking to the New York media Thursday at his first OTAs with the Giants, the former Las Vegas Raiders weapon got asked if he was ready to accept the future attention from the New York/New Jersey area.
“You really just have to embrace it,” Waller answered. “Not a lot of people get to say that they can play football in a market like this and in a city like this where people are passionate as this fan base is.”
Waller has played in markets much smaller in comparison to NYC, including Baltimore, Oakland, and Vegas. But how does Waller view this opportunity to suit up for the largest NFL and sports market?
“Whether you look at it as ‘it’s scary,’ or ‘it’s a really cool opportunity,’ … I view it as a great opportunity,” Waller said.
Waller Can Reamplify and Reignite a Once Popular Position for the Giants
Speaking of opportunities, Waller has the chance to reamplify a position that’s seen Mark Bavaro and Jeremy Shockey create a stir in New York with their stellar play.
Both TEs became beloved in the Big Apple for flattening out linebackers and defensive backs after the catch with their bruising force. Their grit was not just accepted by the Giants but got their popularity to rise in NYC.
Yet, since Shockey’s last Pro Bowl appearance in 2006, the Giants have only produced one Pro Bowler at that position: Evan Engram in 2020. Engram has since moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Waller comes in with a history of snatching 90+ passes in a season. But he’ll look to shake the injury bug in his new home after being limited to a combined 17 starts the last two seasons. He’s also going to aim to be refreshed from his falling out with the Raiders.
The difference between Bavaro/Shockey and Waller? The former tight ends were draft finds for the G-Men. Waller comes in as a trade acquisition. Still, Waller can reinvigorate a position that’s seen tight ends catch no more than 47 receptions in the last two years.
Already, one prominent member of the Giants has begun to embrace Waller warmly — the one who will soon look to feed him the football.
Daniel Jones Speaks on What He’s Seen From His Newest Tight End
Daniel Jones spoke about what he’s observed so far from the towering and athletic Pro Bowler.
“Darren’s been great. I think as soon as you walk onto the field, you can see that he’s a big guy, he can run, he can run every route, he catches the ball really well with great body control … so he’s been really fun to work with,” Jones told reporters.
But outside of the physical attributes, Jones has been equally impressed with Waller’s ability to adjust to a new offense.
“He’s a really smart guy. He’s picked up things very quickly,” Jones said.
Once again, Waller will receive a new, higher level of scrutiny from the NYC media and fanbase this fall. But he is warming up to it … and Jones himself has witnessed Waller’s approach to a new mecca.
“He’s just been locked in. You can tell that it’s important to him,” Jones said. “He’s put a lot of effort into learning stuff and getting caught up. It’s been fun working with him.”