Darryl Talley: The Duke of Awesome Returns & How One Decision Can Change Everything

Here’s a movie pitch: Former Captain of the football team and fan favorite finally decides to open up about his own problems. Fans react with open arms, player and his family react, football team’s ownership reacts. Player goes back to work with the organization and community where it all started. That sounds good like quite the turnaround and in this case, its reality.

Janine Talley, the wife of beloved former Buffalo Bills’ linebacker, Darryl Talley, penned a must-read column for the Buffalo News a few days ago, which is one of six she will be contributing to the publication. The post discusses life since Tim Graham’s original article in November that covered Talley’s struggle with depression, the GoFundMe page that fans set up for their family and “The Hammer’s” newest gig with Buffalo. The Times They Are a-Changin’ alright.

talleyBack in April, Bills co-owner Terry Pegula approached Daryl Talley about an ambassador role with the team, which he happily accepted. While the details of the position weren’t disclosed, Janine said the “Bills have no idea how much that gesture gave Darryl a sense of purpose again”.

Wow. Talk about a powerful message. To understand the full scope and weight of these developments, you need to trace back to that article in November. Talley has been struggling with physical ailments along with depression since he retired, and finally decided to go public about it in hopes to help other former and current players who may be in that all-too-similar position. The immediate result was a GoFundMe page that raised approximately $153k for Darryl and his family. The more important happening however was Daryl getting the medical attention that was long overdue.

Everybody knows that the Talley’s were very reluctant to personally accept the money donated through the online fundraiser, but Janine said that in order to “get out of the hell we hovered just north of”, it was necessary. Since then Talley also has been included in the “Brain and Body” program that the NFLPA is pioneering. It focuses on providing former and current players with world-class medical care when it previously was unavailable. Dr. Ross-Zafonte is directing the program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Janine says that Darryl has been very receptive to the physical diagnoses and therapies. The psychological part was more of a challenge

After refusing any medicinal help for his confirmed diagnoses of depression, Darryl finally gave in with some hounding by family and doctors. So far, so good his wife says as the treatments are helping “Spiderman” feel more like himself again. That is such a great revelation and especially when you consider the day-to-day impact it has on their lives.

Covering the donations and following everything that has transpired since the original article was published really makes you feel a part of this story. Whether that’s accurate or not is up to interpretation, but the fact is people can finally relate to someone who was Superman on the field, and just a normal guy off it. Now to bring it all back full circle, Darryl will be working with the Bills again in his new ambassador role, which is a big deal for everybody.

There are a million lessons you can take away from Talley’s story. The complete 180 has been powered by multiple factors, but the spotlight really shines on Darryl’s decision to go public about his struggles. That one decision triggered a chain of events that not only have his family standing on higher ground, but has opened doors to life-changing treatment and experiences he didn’t have 10 months ago.

Life is too short and sometimes too hard to do it all on your own, so if you know a friend, family member, loved one or even a stranger that needs help, just think about how big of an impact one decision or gesture can make.