Buffalo Bills legend Darryl Talley has had physical and mental health problems since retiring from the NFL. But it was only recently that he shared his struggles with people outside his own family. Even former teammates didn't know the extent of Talley's hardship, outlined in a November 2014 piece for The Buffalo News. Since that article was written, not only have the team and countless fans stepped up to try to help Talley, he's received the medical care he previously couldn't.
"Now we're here, fortunate that Darryl was able to be included in a pioneering program initiated by the NFLPA to diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses of retired players," writes Talley's wife, Janine, in the first of a series of articles for The Buffalo News. "Under the direction of Dr. Ross Zafonte, Darryl gained access to world-class health care at Massachusetts General Hospital. Currently, we're focusing on what's immediately treatable for Darryl and in the future, once he's mentally ready, he will have some surgical procedures. He's been receptive to all of his doctors' physical diagnoses and therapies, while the psychological side caused a challenge."
Like many NFL players, Talley was used to being the alpha male, refusing to ask for help, and downright rejecting it when offered. It led to a large strain in his personal and business lives, detailed last fall and further explained by his wife. Luckily, he has finally relented, and is starting to emerge from his "oatmeal" with more clarity.
"Once Darryl was diagnosed with depression, he saw his need for an anti-depressant as a sign of weakness, and wasn't open to taking it," continued Janine. "With a lot of coaxing and promises of relief, the fine staff in Boston finally convinced Darryl to try the medicine. Within weeks, I noticed an improvement in his mood and clarity in his thinking that had eluded him for years. Now, after three months, the medicine has slowly peeled back the mask Darryl was wearing to reveal his former-self: him."
After the publication of the article, one Bills fan set up a GoFundMe account, which surpassed $153,000 in donations for the Talleys. They reluctantly accepted the donations to "get out of the hell we were just north of" and return to solid ground financially. In addition, the team and owner Terry Pegula stepped up with a role in the organization for Talley.
"Finally, I am happy to inform that the Bills, under new ownership, reached out to Darryl in April, offering an ambassadorship," concluded Talley. "Darryl proudly accepted, and is thrilled to be a part of the organization again. The Bills have no idea how much that gesture gave Darryl a sense of purpose again."