Former Denver Broncos defensive tackle Darren Drozdov, known to WWE fans as just “Droz,” died at the age of 54.
Drozdov, a native of Mays Landing, New Jersey, began his athletic career as an All-State quarterback at Oakcrest High School in South Jersey, where he earned a scholarship to play defensive tackle for the University of Maryland. Despite not being picked, Drozdoc spent three seasons with the New York Jets, notably puking upon the football during his first season on Monday Night Football to acquire the moniker “Puke,” before playing a single season for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 1996.
Transitioning to the wild world of professional wrestling, Drozdov worked matches for ECW from 1997 to 1998 before joining WWE in 1998, first as Puke and subsequently as Droz. After an interesting run with the Road Warriors, Droz went solo and began appearing in skits called “Droz’s World” and even formed his stable with Prince Albert/Tensi and Key, but that run was cut short when, in October 1999, he took a botched powerbomb from D’Lo Brown, causing a serious neck injury and the former tackle to become a quadriplegic, with no movement below his neck.
Though Droz managed to stay connected to the WWE Universe by writing articles for the company’s website and appearing on multiple episodes of Vice’s Darkside of the Ring, it’s a shame fans never got to see what “Droz’s World” was building towards, as the ultra-charismatic in-ring performer was only scratching the surface of his potential as a talker, worker, and WWE Superstar.
The family of Darren Drozdov has stated after his death
WWE published a statement from Darren Drozdov’s family on their official website to honor his life and reflect on how he was able to overcome a tragic accident to live 24 fulfilling years with no ill will towards D’Lo Brown, WWE, or anybody else.
We are sad to share our beloved Darren passed away this morning of natural causes. There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now.
Darren, affectionately known as ‘Droz,’ was involved in a tragic ring accident while wrestling for the WWE in 1999 that rendered him a quadriplegic. Nevertheless, Droz maintained a championship mindset and lived every day to the fullest even though he was unable to move from the neck down for the past 24 years. His own words sum up his relentless positivity in the midst of adversity: ‘There is always another day. Just because I’m paralyzed and stuck in a wheelchair, doesn’t mean my life is over. I’ve learned to live again, and my life is far from over.’
We lived this journey with him over the past 24 years. We were always there through the good times and the bad, and provided him with our unconditional love. We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to everyone. All of his fans, teammates, colleagues, and friends for all the love and support he received over the years. You all gave him meaning, purpose and something to live for. He loved each and every one of you and cherished the conversations, notes and letters he received. His faith in humanity never faltered, so know that for all the love you’ve shown him, he loved you back.
We also would also like to thank WWE for treating him like family, and for all of their love, support and stepping up to make sure that Darren always had the proper care and treatment needed to live in his condition over the past 24 years.
He was a devoted son, brother, and friend who had always put others first, especially his family. He was kind, generous and was always there for his people. He was our guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love and wonder. His smile was healing. His warmth, love, and laughter were infectious. We could always turn to him for wisdom and solace and his absence feels like a giant hole in our family and our hearts. Everyone who knew Darren was a better person because of it. He taught everyone so much about how to look at life: how to put things in perspective, how to overcome adversity, and how to show compassion for others. He would not want anyone to be sad at this moment and would want to this to be a celebration of his life, to be remembered for all the great things that he accomplished, the fun, the laughter, the great memories he shared with everyone.
Droz, may you travel the highways with the Legion of Doom forever.