• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Skip Bayless has no right to criticize Dak Prescott's honesty about mental health

Shalise Manza Young
·Yahoo Sports Columnist
·5 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Do not listen to Skip Bayless.

Please.

If you are someone who, like so many, is struggling with loneliness due to COVID-19, or despair because you’ve lost your job, or are grieving the loss or illness of a loved one, or you’re overwhelmed by the constant barrage of bad news — particularly if you’re Black — or you can’t quite pinpoint why you’re not feeling like yourself, feeling down or maybe even despondent, do not listen to Skip Bayless.

Your feelings are valid. Your pain is real. It is OK to feel what you’re feeling, and it is OK — encouraged, even! — to tell someone you trust about them.

Do not listen to Skip Bayless.

By now, most of us know that Bayless is little more than a caricature, someone who has become a rich man by wanting us to believe he’s playing a role, a hot-take specialist who seemingly thrives off of saying things not based in actual reality and having them go viral, however briefly. It seems like those viral moments almost always involve LeBron James, which makes some of us wonder what his schtick will be when James retires, but his banality is a different topic for another time.

On Thursday, however, Bayless reached a disgusting low during FS1’s “Undisputed.”

Making it worse, he knew he was about to say something disgusting because he prefaced his comments by saying viewers were welcome to condemn him as “cold-blooded and insensitive” for what he was about to say.

What followed wasn’t just insensitive, it was despicable.

Bayless criticized Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott for revealing on an upcoming episode of “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” that he dealt with depression and began experiencing anxiety in the early stages of the coronavirus shutdown. Then in mid-April his older brother, Jace, died by suicide, which brought a new wave of emotions. Bayless said that while he has sympathy for those with clinical depression, he has no sympathy for Prescott because as quarterback of “America’s team” he’s supposed to be a leader of men.

“I have deep compassion for clinical depression, but when it comes to the quarterback of an NFL team, you [Shannon Sharpe] know this better than I do, it’s the ultimate leadership position in sports, am I right about that?” Bayless said on “Undisputed”. “You are commanding an entire franchise… 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 ...

“The 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 can definitely encourage others on the other side to come after you.”

Do not listen to Skip Bayless.

A leader of men does what Prescott did. Being vulnerable does not make Prescott less of a leader. For locker rooms that constantly preach “family,” it could bring his teammates closer and lead to a new level of respect, and perhaps to some of them revealing their own bouts with depression, whether brief or ongoing.

You know, being human. Showing love and support to one another, like families do.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott sits on the bench late in the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott revealed he battled depression and anxiety when the coronavirus crisis began. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

For far too long, men in particular have suffered through mental illness in silence because of toxic attitudes like Bayless’s, and this is especially acute in the Black community where for too long mental health discussions have been stigmatized or met with a recommendation to “pray more” in lieu of getting help from a professional, which results in Black Americans seeking mental health about half as often as others (lack of health insurance contributes as well).

The idea that revealing struggles are showing weakness is antiquated and dangerous. What Bayless said is antiquated and dangerous.

Being the franchise quarterback of an NFL team means Prescott has more pressure on him, not less. Being the franchise quarterback of one of the most visible sports franchises on the planet means Prescott has an even larger spotlight on him.

Prescott should be hailed. What he did was not easy. So many of us have or are dealing with mental health worries and don’t go public with them because we assume we’ll be met with the type of callous behavior Bayless displayed, so we keep it in and thus suffer quietly.

Those who step forward, who open themselves up to share their past or their present with others, to show those who might need that lifeline that they are not alone and they will make it through and that there is help available, they are the brave ones.

Dak Prescott was brave. If his revelation means even one person makes that first, scary call to a mental health facility to get on the path to better health, then he is a hero.

Do not listen to Skip Bayless.

More from Yahoo Sports: