A fundraiser for ex-Buffalo Bill Darryl Talley has rocketed to well over $120,000. Fans of the 12-year Buffalo Bill, the team’s all-time leading tackler, remember Talley fondly – his Spider Man skin suit under his uniform echoing the insatiable mutation we saw every Sunday. Talley, kind-hearted and soft-spoken, becoming a beast on the field, a man that would push the limits on every down to help his beloved team win.
To a fan, the Super Bowl days from the early 90s are iconic and unforgettable in a way that only a Buffalonian can understand. The big names from the Bills’ glory days – Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, Cornelius Bennett, etc. – are legendary figures that almost take on a mythical status. But recent hardships, including Kelly’s battles with cancer and the Hall of Fame quarterback’s center Kent Hull’s death at age 50, have reminded us that these men are mortals.
A stirring Buffalo News profile of Darryl Talley on Nov. 30 has revealed a side that no one knew. Talley, described as “broke and broken,” is out of money, out of options, and has openly contemplated suicide.
Writes Tim Graham from the Buffalo News: “Those closest to Darryl Talley are terrified. His wife, daughters and former teammates openly cry for him. They lament what has befallen him. They dread what his future might hold. Talley’s life is in tatters. Loved ones say his mind is deteriorating. He’s begrudgingly starting to agree. He’s 54, but his body is a wreck and continues to crumble. He suspects collisions from playing linebacker for 14 NFL seasons, a dozen with the Buffalo Bills, have damaged his brain. He’s often depressed beyond the point of tears.”
As a disabled NFL veteran, Talley receives only $39K per year. The NFL said that Talley didn’t get his “paperwork” to the league in time to qualify for the Disability-A Plan, which would have paid Talley, his wife and two children $120,000 a year. Talley disputes that claim, but there is little that can be done now about it.
As to ending his life, Talley said in the interview: “I’ve thought about it,” Darryl Talley said from his rented Florida house. The home that Talley and his wife Janine lived in for 17 years was foreclosed on. “When you go through the s— that I’ve gone through, you start to wonder: Is this really worth it? Is it worth being here, worth being tortured anymore? It would be just as easy to call it a day. But there are two reasons why I won’t. First of all, my parents didn’t raise a coward. The most important is I want to be around for my grandkids.”
Fans however have responded. A Go Fund Me page, titled “Circle the Wagons for Darryl Talley,” has netted over $120,000. Posted by a “lifelong fan of the Buffalo Bills” the page reaches out to Bills Nation everywhere and gives fans the opportunity to give something back to the man we loved watching play for over a decade. As a Buffalo Bills fan myself, the article in the Buffalo News was touching. Per the fundraiser site:
Darryl Talley was the quintessential Buffalo Bill. He was the on-field General for the teams that went to four straight Super Bowls. He gave everything he had on every play and left it all on the field.
The years of abuse on the field took their toll and today Darryl is in a bad place. His body has broken down, his money is all but gone and depression has taken hold of the man Bills’ fans affectionately call, ‘Spider-Man.’
Darryl is the proudest of men and it took a lot for him to even admit publicly that he needed help. For 12 years he circled the wagons for us, now it’s time for Bills’ fans to return the favor for our favorite son.
Speaking of the dismissive attitude he said the NFL had toward players like him, Talley said: “When you’re done playing, you’re like a piece of meat. They treat you like, ‘None of what you say is our fault. None of these injuries happened from playing football.’ They tell you whether or not you hurt. Ain’t none of them son of a bitches took a hit … took a knife cut. None of us playing this game is normal. To compare an NFL player’s pain threshold to the average person who’s never done it? They’re going to tell me I don’t hurt?”
Hopefully, the fundraiser for Darryl Talley will ease some of his pain.