Sometimes things are bigger than NFC East rivalry.
Skip Bayless is 68 years old.
Since breaking into the sporting writing game in the mid-70s, Bayless has written for a half dozen or so of the most prestigious papers in the country, covered some of the best teams in sports history, and headlined two incredibly successful talk shows.
His words have been read by millions, his clips, either from Undisputed or First Take have been viewed literally billions of times on YouTube alone, and with a single take, he can turn the Twitter world on its head with a globally trending hashtag.
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Sometimes, these takes are rather goofy, like excluding LeBron James from the Goat conversation due to personal issues with the superstar’s game. We laugh, we call Bayless out of touch, and we mostly move on to the next spicy opinion by another nationally televised talking head.
But on Thursday’s iteration of Undisputed, Bayless had one particularly biting take that is equally as dangerous as it was calloused.
Speaking on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott with his co-host Shannon Sharpe, Bayless called out the 27-year-old quarterback for admitting publicly to having sought out help for depression and anxiety after his brother’s suicide back in April. Despite being a literal Cowboys fan, arguably the Cowboys fan in the eyes of many, Bayless accosted Prescott for not maintaining a macho, alpha male personality to rile up Them Boys to another 8-8 playoff-less season.
*sigh* where do I even begin with this one?
Well, first and foremost, depression and anxiety are deadly real. Neither is a choice, neither is made up, and neither makes a person any less valuable. Admitting to the world that he too suffered through these all too common feelings made all the more worse by our current, post-COVID-19 world makes Prescott incredibly powerful, dare I say heroic.
Furthermore, how exactly is showing vulnerability a sign of weakness, let alone a disqualifier for a position of leadership? It’s 2020 for goodness sake, not 1945. Expecting a man to be this Frankensteinian monster solely driven by testosterone, cold domestic beer, and a desire for a home-cooked meal after a long day is about as relevant as calling out a writer for working in sports without any on-field experience.
To my knowledge, Bayless hasn’t played a snap of any sport even semi-professionally over the last 50 years, so his opinion is meaningless, right?
Look, I can see a person like Skip Bayless not understanding how it feels to be deep in the thralls of depression. Maybe he’s never spent a day staring frozenly at a wall neither really awake nor asleep or felt physically ill for the better part of a week for no reason in particular. His life is pretty darn privileged, and maybe one of them is avoiding any first-hand contact with these less visible forms of mental illness.
But coming from a Philadelphia Eagles fan who likes the Dallas Cowboys about as much as he likes his own battles with depression and anxiety, Skip Bayless’ inability to empathize with another person’s struggles is frankly shocking -and yet all too common- in the year 2020. Hopefully, his boneheadedness has opened a dialog that can finally end the stigma about speaking out, seeking help, and what it means to be ‘a man’.