Darryl Talley, a key member of those four Bills Super Bowl teams of the early 1990s, recently went to see the movie "Concussion."
His wife, Janine, says that as she watched the movie, she recognized her husband's plight in the former players who struggled with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) years after their career ended.
She says she could tell her husband recognized his own symptoms, too.
"Darryl recognized himself in those players," Talley wrote in a lengthy commentary this week on the Bills fan site, Buffalofambase.org. "I viewed him as he sat on the edge of his seat; tears welling in his eyes. He watched with the intensity he usually dedicates to an action movie."
Previous news reports have detailed how the 55-year-old Talley suffers from depression and numerous physical ailments he blames on his 14-year NFL career. Talley has had 15 post-career surgeries. In 2014, Bills fans even raised tens of thousands of dollars to help him cover medical bills.
But Janine Talley says that she's been urged to share her husband's story once again in the wake of the release of "Concussion." Coincidentally, her commentary came just days after Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president for health and safety, admitted to Congress that he believes football and CTE are linked. It's the first time the league has admitted such a link.
"Our daughters and I spent a few years frustrated and concerned with Darryl’s anger, erratic behavior, insufferable mood swings, impulsivity, depression and memory loss," Talley wrote. "He’d been more and more frequently asking how to spell elementary words. He lost keys, wallets, reading glasses, and television remotes regularly. Where he once would have retraced his steps and been able to find a misplaced item, he wasn’t able to do so anymore. He had no ability to concentrate or make decisions."
Janine Talley says her husband sometimes struggles just to walk to the bathroom in the morning. He'll occasionally be eating and just drop his fork or glass on the floor because he has no feeling in his fingers. Excruciating pain often makes it difficult for him to sleep or sit in a chair.
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Once, Talley came out of the house for a trip to the store, and Janine noticed his hand was missing a chunk of flesh and bleeding profusely. He hadn't noticed.
"When we got to the store and he pulled out his wallet, with it came his razor," Janine Talley wrote. "When he finished shaving, instead of putting the razor back in the cabinet, he’d unknowingly put it in his pocket. The mystery of how he’d cut himself was solved. His not knowing he’d put the razor in his pocket and not having enough feeling in his fingers to realize he’d sliced chunks of his flesh off of them repulsed and infuriated me."
Janine Talley believes the NFLPA’s Brain and Body Trust should do more to help family members of former players struggling with CTE and other football-related trauma.
"I’ve loved Darryl since I was 18 years old," she wrote. "This isn’t how I envisioned our lives. We’ve been robbed of happiness and fulfillment."