For the first time in his NFL career, Marcell Dareus spent Week 8 on a team that does not suit up in red, white and blue. Last week the Bills sent their third overall pick in the 2011 draft to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a conditional sixth-round draft pick in 2018.
But even though the Pro Bowl defensive tackle has traded Buffalo's snowy winters for Florida sunshine, the city he called home each football season for the past six years still holds a special place in his heart.
Here is the letter Dareus sent to The Buffalo News, expressing his love and appreciation for Western New York and all the people here who make it such a special place to live.
Last Friday I was traded by the Buffalo Bills to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although I am looking forward to this next chapter of my NFL career, I want to say goodbye and “Thank you” to everyone who made my time in Buffalo some of the best seven years of my life.
Thank you to Terry, Kim and the entire Pegula family for starting my career in Buffalo and believing in me from the beginning. Thank you to the entire Buffalo Bills organization, particularly the players, management and staff who were around for my entire time there. You helped me so much and I will never forget it.
But most importantly, I want to thank the amazing Buffalo fans and the Bills Mafia, for making me feel welcome and comfortable in a city I will always consider a second home. When I got drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2011, and coming from the state of Alabama, I knew very little about Western New York. As the years progressed, I not only learned about the area, but I learned about you, a community whose heart and soul is built on its devotion to the Bills and its’ players. Through the seven years I lived and played for you, and even through the tough times, I always felt your love, kindness and encouragement. For this I can’t thank you enough.
Just playing and living in Buffalo wasn’t enough for me either. I am glad that while I was there I was able to give back and reach the less fortunate parts of the community. Giving back has always been a priority to me, because as the Bible says, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Through my Dareus Foundation, we did great things both emotionally and financially. My favorite was playing Santa Claus and giving toys to the kids at holiday time. It was priceless.
Getting traded is hard because it happens so quickly and you don’t have time to do much of anything, let alone say goodbye. But now I would like to express my gratitude to some of the best people and fans in the world. Thanks for the memories which are many and will never be replaced. I will cherish them forever.
I am excited about my new beginning, but Buffalo will always hold a special place in my heart.
– Marcell Dareus