One of the biggest stories in sports this week was Skip Bayless’ comments on Dak Prescott. The Cowboy’s quarterback admitted that he struggled with depression this summer while in quarantine. Also, Prescott’s older brother, Jace, committed suicide last April 24th.
He said what?
On Fox Sports 1’s “Undisputed”, Bayless was critical of Prescott for being open about his mental health struggles. He began by saying how important it is for an NFL quarterback to be a leader of men.
“Because of all that, I don’t have sympathy for him going public with ‘I got depressed,'” Bayless said. “‘I suffered depression early in COVID to the point that I couldn’t even go workout.’ You just can’t go public with it, in my humble opinion.”
Shannon Sharpe, who was great in this segment, challenged Bayless’ premise. He asked if Prescott should just hold in his feelings. Bayless still did not want Prescott speaking up, even while admitting Prescott doing so could help others going through similar struggles.
Where to begin?
There are certainly many ways to combat Bayless’ stance. He sounds like an old man a century out of touch. He believes Prescott’s comments will have a negative impact on the team, which is ludicrous. Bayless thinks it matters Prescott is the quarterback of America’s Team, which is beyond irrelevant in this conversation. Or how he thinks someone can simply fight through depression.
All of these criticisms, and many more, have been hurled at Bayless over the past couple of days. Here is what stood out to me.
The real impact
Bayless was not too interested in the fact that Prescott could help others struggling with depression by being open about his true feelings. That is just stunning.
As a star quarterback in the most popular sport in the country, Prescott’s comments could very well strike a nerve with people not likely to discuss their own problems.
Kids want to be like their favorite athletes. They wear the same number, their type of shoes, their style haircut. If they hear a tough, professional athlete talk about their depression, they may very well be comfortable sharing what is really going in their head.
Prescott should be getting praise for opening up, not criticism. As wrong as Bayless is, there are many people throughout the world who agree with him.
It will go along way with mental health in our country if more people, especially men in historically tough professions, speak up about these struggles. It does not make you soft to share these feelings. Quite the contrary, it is quite brave to admit to your loved ones what you are truly feeling.
Prescott showed more guts in that interview than he ever will on the gridiron.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones