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Catching Up with Buffalo Bills Legend Darryl Talley

Between his upcoming jersey number retirement and the hype around the Buffalo Bills, it is time to catch up with NFL legend Darryl Talley.
Darryl Talley

Entering the 2021 NFL season, there is a ton of excitement surrounding the Buffalo Bills. They are the favorites to win the AFC East for a second straight season. More importantly, they are among the favorites to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI.

After decades of waiting, the Bills time to win the big one is now. They have an MVP-caliber quarterback in Josh Allen. One of the best receivers in the league in Stefon Diggs. Not to mention their stars on defense, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, and cornerback Tre’Davious White.

Yet, at the end of the day, whether or not they make it to the Super Bowl comes down to execution. Something that in the Bills previous four Super Bowl trips were unable to do. So, how might they finally win the big one?

Earlier this week, Last Word on Sports had the opportunity to catch up with Bills legend, linebacker Darryl Talley, discussing a major milestone in his personal life and how the Bills will fair in 2021.

Catching Up with Buffalo Bills Legend Darryl Talley

Darryl Talley’s Number being Retired by West Virginia

Back in the 1983 NFL Draft, the Bills selected a 6’4″ and 235-pound linebacker named Darryl Talley with the 39th overall pick. Little did they know at the time that they just drafted a player who would one day join their Wall of Fame.

Drafted out of West Virginia, Talley spent four seasons in Morgantown. He totaled 484 career tackles, which stood as the most by any Mountaineer in school history at the time. Additionally, Talley was a team MVP and a consensus All-American. In other words, it was only a matter of time before his number 90 would be retired at West Virginia.

To Talley, the honor of having his jersey retired is “Truly gratifying, truly gratifying… I mean the criteria that they set is some really, really high criteria, and to meet that expectation and do that, that’s just truly an honor. I mean there’s nothing better I think – how do I put it – there’s no better attribute that I can say or anything I can say about the way I played the game as to have my number retired by a university.”

The Mountaineer great will have his number 90 retired against Big 12 foe Texas Tech on Saturday, October 2nd.

The Excitement Currently in Buffalo

As things stand, the NFL will have fans filling up stadiums for the first time since the 2019 season (pre-COVID-19). Not only will fans be able to tailgate and cheer on their team again, but create the true gameday environment that was missing last season. From crowd noise to the mindset of players, Talley details the significance of having fans in the stands…

“I think it’s just a different emotion. I mean guys will get a feel what the fan, [the] crowd does to the game, just like last year’s rookies didn’t. They truly don’t understand what they’re in for. The impact the fans have on the game is a lot because when they’re in the stands, guys feed off of that, and guys can feed off of it. They can get on guys and guys will put their head in the dirt. There’s a lot of things that can happen during a game.”

As Talley said, “they truly don’t know what they’re in for.” Any football fan understands what the Bills mean to the city of Buffalo. In upstate New York, fans eat, breathe, and sleep Buffalo Bills football. And it goes without saying that they are going to go wild every gameday this season.

Similarities Between Current and 1990’s Teams

Every year, all 32 NFL teams compete to hoist the Lombardi. It is hard to get to the playoffs like the Bills have three of the past four seasons. To get to the Super Bowl though is a whole other challenge.

Yet, somehow, Darryl Talley and the Bills made it to four straight Super Bowls from 1991-1994. Since then, the Bills have only made the playoffs seven times. However, things are looking bright as they have just made back-to-back playoff appearances. In order to get to that next level, the Bills may have to look to the past for advice, as Talley sees some similarities between the squads…

“It looks like they play together. They play for one another, and that’s one of the key attributes we had. We all played for each other. I mean anytime you’re going to sweat and bleed to death all over the field and everywhere with somebody, you’re going to have a little more respect for them. You’re going to hold them in a higher standard – hold them to a higher standard. And that’s what I think these guys are doing. They’re holding each other to a higher standard.”

Might There Be Another Darryl Talley on the Team?

The fact of the matter is it’s difficult to compare players across eras because of how much the NFL has changed.┬áRegarding the way linebacker is played, Talley mentions how “They play such specialty games now and they don’t have guys who will play all of the downs, and when they do play all of the downs, sometimes some of the guys forget what they’re doing on those downs.”

Nevertheless, today’s linebackers, no matter the role, look to the past to get better. Whether watching their own game film or past legends, they are constantly looking for ways to get better. Even a certain Bills two-time Pro Bowl linebacker still has more to learn…

“Well, Tremaine [Edmunds] get to play a lot of, a lot of the downs, so he plays well. I like the way he plays; he plays hard. Plays downhill style and you know, I still get on him every now and then when I say and tell him don’t get pushed by the ball. Put the man in the hole.”

Should the Bills Win it All…

One of the founding members of the AFC in 1960, the Bills have never won a Lombardi of their own. Therefore, Bills Mafia, the most dedicated and crazed fans in the league, have only been celebrating occasional playoff berths, contract extensions, and big regular season wins. Their celebrations are so unhinged that all Talley would say about the craziest thing he’s seen Bills Mafia do is “Uh uh, never getting me on camera with that one, I’m sorry. I’ve seen some pretty outlandish things.”

Well Bills Mafia, should the Bills ever pull it off, it will be time for the biggest celebration yet. After 60+ years of blood, sweat, and tears, it will be well worth the wait. What might a championship mean to the city of Buffalo? Should the Bills win it all, Talley said that “The people in western New York would love that. I mean, they’re dying for one. I mean we tried to do it. We had four bites of the apple and we couldn’t do it.”

How Far Can the 2021 Bills Go?

Who knows, maybe this will be the Bills team to bring it home. Obviously, this is easier said than done. The AFC is going to be a dogfight in 2021. Their division alone has two playoff-caliber teams in the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins reside. Nonetheless, as long as the Bills do whatever they can to improve, they have a chance.

As Talley said, “So now the only thing that we have to do is we have to go up there, they have to come out, and we have to get better. And the only way we’re going to get better is we got to outwork everybody, and I think this group of guys has the ability to do that. But they got to keep their nose to the grindstone and look at one day at a time and try to beat everyone that they can.”

The path to the big one is clear – get better every day. From there, the current team, Bills Mafia, the city of Buffalo, as well as Darryl Talley and his teams of the past will finally be able to celebrate their first bite out of the apple.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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