Last week Bills Wall of Famer Darryl Talley found out he’ll be one of 14 inductees in the College Football Hall of Fame class of 2011. But what do his former Bills teammates think about one of the franchise’s more notable defensive leaders receiving such an honor?
Bills Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith played alongside Talley for close to a decade in Buffalo. He also played against him in college and has first-hand knowledge of the type of player Talley was for the Moutaineers.
“I can remember my days of playing against Darryl while he was at West Virginia,” said Smith who played his college ball at Virginia Tech. “He was that linebacker and that player that we as younger players strived to become and strived to emulate with his finesse, his resilience, and his approach to the game. It’s an incredible honor and it’s well deserved.”
Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and Talley were two of the initial building blocks for a Buffalo team that became four-time AFC champions. Kelly was a first-round pick in 1983 with Talley selected in the second round.
“I remember the day when he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the same year I was,” Kelly said. “The Buffalo Bills were on the rise and he represented what Mr. Wilson said about making sure that he brings tough, quality players to the Buffalo Bills.”
Talley learned to become a student of the game at West Virginia and carried it with him to Buffalo. Smith largely credits the new College Hall of Famer with schooling him on the game’s finer points.
“His mentality towards just understanding the game and wanting to teach younger players to stick around and be effective in this game was incredible,” said Smith. “You had to be a student of the game in understanding and knowing your opponents’ systems, the different schemes that teams would try and use against you. It was just inspirational to me to see his approach toward the game and I think quite a bit of it rubbed off on me.”
The former Mountaineer was also a leader, one that teammates rallied behind and followed.
“Darryl was the catalyst of our team,” said Kelly. “He was the one who held our defense together and if I had to say who our three top leaders were on that team he’d be one of them.”
His most respected quality however, was his team-first mindset.
“The fact that he was such an unselfish player made a huge impact on me,” said Smith. “The fact that he wanted the team to be successful first; he realized that once the team was successful that he would get his just due. His understanding of being a team player was just incredible.”
Talley and the rest of the 2011 Divisional College Football Hall of Fame Class, which also includes two coaches, will be officially introduced at the National Football Foundation Awards Dinner on Dec. 6, 2011 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. He will be inducted and enshrined July 15-16 in the summer of 2012 in South Bend, Indiana.