Earlier this week Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott publicly revealed that his older brother, Jace, committed suicide this past spring. He spoke about how hard it was for him to deal with that death, and how he himself grappled with mental health issues, particularly depression, as a result. It hasn’t always been common for star athletes to come forward with their mental struggles, particularly football players, but in today’s political climate it has become acceptable.
Dak Prescott should be praised universally for his public vulnerability. He should be thanked for his service in harboring the national conversation about mental health within an NFL locker room. We should cherish the athletes and celebrities who are willing to step in front of a camera or microphone and bare their pain to the world.
Instead, Dak caught flak.
Skip Bayless, the Fox Sports host known for his hot takes, got on television Thursday morning and bashed Prescott for his comments. Skip suggested that Dak should not have made his comments and pointed at what he deemed to be a lack of leadership. Skip flat-out said that comments on depression make the quarterback seem weak and added on that Dak should not be in charge of “America’s Team” if he is this mentally weak.
It is no secret that Skip Bayless loves to turn his controversial takes into TV ratings. As long as he has been on the air he has been willing to fan the flames, seemingly operating under the motto of “all publicity is good publicity”. So far, it’s worked well for him. He makes a lot of money, $25 million over four years right now, and he has enjoyed a long career in front of the camera.
However, there are certain topics that should be off limits, and Skip’s Dak Prescott comments should be treated like the vile rhetoric they are. His willingness to blow smoke about any issue has never garnered Bayless universal love, but these comments go far past inflammatory. Using mental health to attract viewership is reprehensible. Publicly dragging a professional athlete who is being open about his depression is past that, it’s pure evil.
I do not expect him to be taken off the air, although his contract with Fox Sports is anything but settled, but I do wish for him to come forward and apologize. I ask for him to get on camera on Friday and address to the nation why mental health is important and why the stigma surrounding it should be removed. If it were really up to me, he wouldn’t have a job come Monday morning.
If all I did during this article was talk about Skip Bayless then I would be accomplishing exactly what he set out to do, feeding him ratings and broadcasting his name to anybody with a pulse. Instead I’d like to end on a more positive note. I wish to say the things that people should be saying about Dak Prescott:
I’m so sorry to hear about what you have been going through. While this country has grappled with COVID-19 we have all felt mental pressure that may not have crept up on us before. Adding on the loss of a loved one, especially one as significant as your brother, makes this year weigh even heavier on your shoulders and my heart aches for you and your family.
I believe when pain radiates like this it’s necessary for us all to come together and prop each other up. I believe that mourning transcends silly NFL rivalries and I want you to know that the league and its fans are hurting for you and your family.
But more than sympathies, I also wish to offer you thanks. Thanks for going public with your pain and vulnerability. Thank you for being willing to tackle the mental health stigma. Thank you for showing the young men in this world that it is ok to feel defeated, and that it’s even more acceptable to make it known how you feel. I hope your wounds can heal, and that you and your family can find peace.
I will never be a Dallas Cowboys fan, but I will forever be rooting for your success, Dak.
I think that sentiment is shared by all of us at TWSN.