Like most of the professional yellers on ESPN these days, Skip Bayless was a moderately respected writer of books and newspaper articles before he realized that it was much easier to simply go on television, be as annoying as humanly possible, and get paid alarming amounts of money to do so.
Of course, Skip had a talent for annoyance even in his ink-stained wretch days, and the most famous example of that was when he released baseless accusations about former star NFL quarterback Troy Aikman's alleged homosexuality in a 1996 book about the Dallas Cowboys.
That's par for the course for Bayless, who made his name on such allegations (my personal favorite was when he questioned Emmitt Smith's toughness upon the occasion of Smith's retirement), but for Aikman, the accusation apparently cut far deeper. 16 years later, when asked about the shot by a Dallas station 1310 The Ticket, Aikman started by saying he wasn't so sure about Bayless' own sexuality.
"When a guy like that comes out and, whether it's intimated or stated, and there's no substance to that claim, and he's doing it purely to gain interest in a book, that's a problem. I will tell you this. I've not seen -- I've not physically seen Skip Bayless since that time … And I still kind of wonder what I might do to him when I do see him."
"You certainly will say something?" host Dan McDowell said.
Aikman replied in the affirmative.
"But you don't think it will get physical, do you?" McDowell said.
"Well, I mean, I don't know. I don't know," Aikman said.
I only have two issues with Aikman's take on this. First, by insinuating that being accused of homosexuality is such a problem, Aikman may wind offending people he doesn't intend to offend. Second, by letting the world know that Bayless' claim affects him to this day, Aikman has played right into the protagonist's little game. You know for a fact that Bayless — perhaps the most shameless media presence in sports (and that's saying a LOT) — will go out out of his way to get as much mileage out of this as possible.
Was Bayless ethically wrong to insert a fact that he apparently didn't research and had no actual knowledge to back up? Of course he was, But that's the nature of the beast in his case. Aikman would probably be better served realizing that as a three-time Super Bowl winner and respected football broadcaster, his current reputation is so far above Bayless' that he has to go out of his way to look down to see Bayless in the first place.
In other words, Troy … don't look down. Skip Bayless is not worth your time.