Commentary: NFL Needs to Pitch In to Help Darryl Talley

Commentary: NFL Needs to Pitch In to Help Darryl Talley

Former Buffalo Bills star finds himself broke and broken in life after his playing days.

Published December 4, 2014

(Photo: GettyImages)

I don’t doubt that Darryl Talley is a name casual NFL fans have left in their yesteryears. People remember Talley well only if they are diehards and have followed the game for two-plus decades.

From my yesteryears, I can still see Talley as a rugged outside linebacker on some talented Buffalo Bills teams from the 1980s and ’90s, and he played well enough for the Bills to make a couple of Pro Bowl teams.

But, as so many players from his era, Talley is not the man he used to be. He’s now 54 going on 94. His body balked on him years ago, and a few years back, he suffered a heart attack. From everything you read about him, Talley is depressed and struggling with the early stages of dementia, an illness not uncommon to football players of his generation.

For Darryl Talley, life after the NFL hasn’t been a crystal stair. In fact, his health issues are compounded by yet another burden: He’s flat broke.

Hearing about the financial problems of NFL retirees continues to surprise me, because I have long thought the money they made should last a lifetime. It rarely does. So many hangers-on and family members have their hands out looking for charity, and Talley might have been too freehanded for his own good.

He also might have made investments that weren’t so wise. A man like Talley leaks money when he’s unable to judge smartly how he’s spending it.

The combination of bad investments and bad health has Talley’s life in tatters. All the dreams he sifted through during his playing career have played out far differently. No way did he dream this scenario for himself. Nor did anybody else who rooted for Talley during his concussion-filled years with the Bills.

So nightmarish is his situation that the Bills and their fans are holding fundraisers to help Talley fix his finances. They have raised more than $100,000, and more money will probably pour in.

To focus now on Talley’s finances is to distract us from his health. Money woes are a lot easier to fix than a man’s health is. I suspect Talley would swap every cent of Warren Buffett’s billions for a body – and mind – that worked better.

Talley isn’t blessed with the ability to make such a deal – nobody is. Instead, he’s trying to get his arms around whatever is happening to him.

His sobering plight is one I want to follow. I want to because Talley’s situation mirrors that of too many NFL players whose careers I used to follow. I also want to see what the league will do to help a man who made its brand the standard for sports leagues.

Its standard should include generosity toward a Black man like Darryl Talley, an old star who desperately needs it.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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Written by Justice B. Hill

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