Fox Sports host Skip Bayless tried Friday to tamp down pushback to comments he made the day before criticizing Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott for remarks he made about grappling with depression – just hours after his employer appeared to reprimand him for the comments.
“I have great compassion for anyone suffering clinical depression, which is very real. If you are suffering from any form of depression, please seek help,” Bayless said during Friday’s broadcast of his Fox Sports 1 program, “Undisputed.”While he spoke, Fox Sports put on screen a graphic offering a phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Bayless, however, did not apologize outright, and his remarks bring new scrutiny to the increasingly popular “hot talk” format that has become so much a part of sports programming in recent years. Many of the big sports-media outlets feature hosts whose job it is to take issue with various sports developments with unvarnished language and contrary views. Bayless arrived at Fox Sports in 2016 after appearing regularly on ESPN’s popular “First Take,” another program that aims to spur debate among viewers.
On Thursday, Bayless took issue with an interview Prescott did with “The Graham Bensinger Show,” in which the Cowboy revealed he had begun suffering from depression and anxiety as the coroanvirus pandemic shut down major parts of American business and society. His older brother committed suicide in mid-April. Prescott acknowledged, which created new problems for him.
Bayless was unmoved. “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 …'” He added: “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.”
Fox Sports on Thursday night released a statement rebuking Bayless’ comments. “At Fox Sports, we are proud of Dak Prescott for publicly revealing his struggle with depression and mental health. No matter the cause of the struggle, Fox Sports believes Dak showed tremendous courage which is evident in both his leadership on the Dallas Cowboys and in his character off the field. We do not agree with Skip Bayless’ opinion on Undisputed this morning. We have addressed the significance of this matter with Skip and how his insensitive comments were received by people internally at Fox Sports and our audience.”