Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott pushed back on insensitive comments made by Skip Bayless on Thursday after the Fox Sports analyst was critical of Prescott for discussing his mental health issues.
"No, I think that's a fake leader," Prescott told reporters when asked if he should be viewed as less of a leader for coming forward. "Being a leader is about being genuine and being real."
Prescott publicly confirmed his brother, Jace, took his own life in April during an appearance on In Depth with Graham Bensinger. The Cowboys star also opened up about his own bouts with anxiety and depression, which began this offseason.
"All throughout this quarantine and this offseason, I started experiencing emotions I've never felt before," Prescott said. "Anxiety for the main one. And then, honestly, a couple of days before my brother passed, I would say I started experiencing depression. And to the point of, I didn't want to work out anymore. I didn't know necessarily what I was going through, to say the least, and hadn't been sleeping at all."
Bayless responded to Prescott's comments with incendiary commentary, questioning his ability to lead the Cowboys because of his mental health issues.
"I'm going to ask our audience to go ahead and condemn me, if you choose, as cold-blooded and insensitive on this issue," Bayless said on FS1's Undefeated. "I have deep compassion for clinical depression. But when it comes to the quarterback of an NFL team, you know this better than I do, it's the ultimate leadership position in sports. ... You are commanding an entire franchise ... you're commanding a lot of young men and some older men. 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. ... If you reveal publicly any little weakness, it can affect your team's ability to believe in you in the toughest spots. And it definitely can encourage others on the other side to come after you."
"You can't go public with that, even though you say this could help a lot of people out there who are truly suffering from a clinically diagnosed depression," Bayless added.
Bayless' comments are both worthy of condemnation and potentially dangerous. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among men 20-44. Men are also less likely than women to seek treatment for mental health issues, in part due to stigma, which is emboldened with comments like the ones made by Bayless.
Fox Sports has not issued a public comment on Bayless' remarks.