When National Football League (American football) pundit Skip Bayless started off his monologue of sorts by saying “I’m going to ask our audience to feel free to go ahead and condemn me...” he probably should have known what he was going to say after that was best left unsaid. Speaking about popular NFL team Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott’s revelation that he was battling depression, Bayless said things that are at best, regressive and at worst, dangerously against mental health awareness.
Bayless, a pundit who has built a reputation of being controversial with his comments, perhaps touched a new low with these remarks about the Cowboys quarterback when he said an athlete of such reputation should not be making his depression public. And that he should have battled through it internally without openly speaking about it.
(Editor’s note: The following quotes have questionable comments about dealing with mental health)
“I’m going to ask our audience to feel free to go ahead and condemn me if you choose as cold-blooded and insensitive on this issue. I have deep compassion for clinical depression.
“But when it comes to the quarterback of a NFL team, you know this as well as I do or better than I do, it’s the ultimate leadership position in sports, am I right about that? You are commanding an entire NFL franchise, what’s the roster at now, 53 guys? …And they’re all looking to you to be their CEO, to be in charge of the football team. Because of all that, I don’t have sympathy for him going public with ‘I got depressed, I suffered depression early in Covid, to the point that I couldn’t even go work out.’
“Look, he’s the quarterback of America’s Team [as the Cowboys are referred to], and you know and I know, this sport that you play, it is dog-eat-dog. It is no compassion, no quarter given on the football field. If you reveal publicly any little weakness, it can affect your team’s ability to believe in you in the toughest spots, and it definitely can encourage others on the other side to come after you. You throw an interception, you’re going to hear ‘You depressed, number four?’ That sort of thing. You get sacked, ‘How’d that feel? You getting down about it?’ You just can’t go public with it, in my humble opinion.”— Quotes via Awful Announcing
Bayless also went on to speak about his own childhood trauma and how he battled through it all, and advised that Prescott should have opted to tough it out with his internal group of friends or his psychiatrist.
The channel has since issued a statement saying this matter will be dealt with internally. Here’s what Fox Sports had to say, according to Deadline:
“At Fox Sports, we are proud of Dak Prescott for publicly revealing his struggle with depression and mental health. No matter the cause of the struggle, Fox Sports believes Dak showed tremendous courage, which is evident in both his leadership on the Dallas Cowboys and in his character off the field. We do not agree with Skip Bayless’ opinion on Undisputed this morning. We have addressed the significance of this matter with Skip and how his insensitive comments were received by people internally at Fox Sports and our audience.”
Here’s the episode where Bayless talks about the Prescott situation with co-host Shannon Sharpe, who, admirably, responded by saying athletes are human beings too.
It is worth mentioning that the official YouTube channel for the show has not posted the video of this particular episode.
Here’s the interview where Prescott speaks about his brother’s death by suicide and his anxiety during the lockdown:
The comments made by Skip Bayless have been universally panned on social media by former players, fans and analysts.
Prescott is playing the 2020 NFL season on a one-year “franchise” player contract worth $31.4 million after failing to get a long-term deal done with the team.
Update: Here’s Bayless responding to the controversy his comments generated: