- Dak Prescott recently discussed his decision to seek mental health counseling for depression and anxiety after his brother died by suicide earlier this year.
- Sports analyst Skip Bayless criticised the Dallas Cowboys quarterback for speaking publicly about his struggles and said “I don’t have sympathy for him” because “he’s the quarterback of America’s team.”
- Big names across the sports world came to Prescott’s defence and said his openness could help people “feel less alone and express themselves openly” and even save lives.
- TW: mental illness and suicide.
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With just days to go before his first game of the 2020 NFL season, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott spoke openly about his mental health struggles.
In a candid, emotionally-charged episode of “In Depth with Graham Bensinger,” Prescott revealed that he battled anxiety, depression, and insomnia while grieving for his brother who died by suicide earlier in the year. The fifth-year superstar said he sought help because he felt overwhelmed trying to deal with everything on his plate.
“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 days before my brother passed, I would say I started experiencing depression.”
The two-time Pro Bowler said his symptoms became so severe that he lost motivation to train and prepare for the upcoming season.
“I didn’t want to work out anymore,” he said. “I didn’t know necessarily what I was going through, to say the least, and I hadn’t been sleeping at all.”
The added grief of losing his brother, Jace, made for one of the most gruelling offseasons imaginable. And though it was visibly painful for Prescott to discuss his “best friend,” he acknowledged the importance of being vocal about mental health issues and encouraging people to speak up when they’re struggling.
“As we said, he had a lot of burdens on him,” Prescott said. “He had a lot of tough things and my sense of saying that is it showed me how vulnerable we have to be as humans â€” how open we have to be because our adversity, our struggles, what we go through, is always going to be too much for ourselves. Maybe too much for even one or two people, but never too much for a community or never too much for the people and the family that you love.”
“So we have to share those things,” he added.
On Thursday, sports analyst and “Undisputed” co-host Skip Bayless criticised the quarterback for speaking out about his recent emotional challenges.
“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,'” Bayless said. “Look, he’s the quarterback of America’s team. You know and I know the sport that you play, it is dog eat dog. It is no compassion.”
The talking head then went on to imply that acknowledging mental health struggles is a sign of “weakness.”
“If you reveal publicly any little weakness, it can affect your team’s ability to believe in you in the toughest spot,” Bayless added.
Dak Prescott’s brother died in April of an apparent suicide.
Dak battled depression.
Dak showed courage and bravery to maybe help someone who is afraid to speak up.
Skip Bayless has ZERO COMPASSION because Dak plays QB in the #NFL and showing weakness.
— CHRIS TORELLO (@TorelloSports) September 10, 2020
During his media availability Thursday, Prescott was adamant that Bayless was wrong, and that “being a leader is about being genuine and being real.”
“I think it’s huge to talk,” Prescott said. “I think it’s huge to get help and it saves lives.”
Other high-profile individuals across the world of sports came to Prescott’s defence and commended him for his bravery while lambasting Bayless for his take.
And on World Suicide Prevention day nonetheless!!!
Dak saved lives by what he said…and no this is not an overstatement. https://t.co/hJVB4mXgue
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) September 10, 2020
Skip missed fact that BECAUSE Dak is the quarterback and leader of America’s team — him outwardly expressing this will lead to young men and women of every demographic to feel less alone and express themselves openly. Mental health issues rob us of achieving our full potenial.
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) September 10, 2020
Dak Prescott's honesty about battling depression after his brother's death will not only help countless people; it makes him a *stronger* leader, because of his authenticity and vulnerability.
To say otherwise is a garbage opinion at best, and a dangerous one at worst.
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) September 10, 2020
After my boyfriend killed him self I listened to ppl call me strong for putting on a happy face and “sucking it up” while knowing I’d drive over bridges and talk myself out of driving off them. Asking for help saved my life- and @dak ‘s openness could save someone else’s! ????????
— Elle Duncan (@elleduncanESPN) September 10, 2020
Mental health isn't a debate topic.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) September 10, 2020
the saddest part about what skip said about dak is it seems from watching that clip that skip has long carried a load that’s weighed him down. had there been a dak in his youth, he may have related to him and taken solace in qb1 for the cowboys sharing his struggles.
— bomani (@bomani_jones) September 10, 2020
Skip Bayless' disgusting criticism of Cowboys QB Dak Prescott for opening up about his depression began with him telling his @FS1 audience "Feel free to condemn me as cold-blooded and insensitive."
Yeah, that's the least of it. Add horrifying and inhuman.
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) September 10, 2020
Though Bayless didn’t respond to the backlash from his comments, his employer â€” FOX Sports â€” condemned the remarks as “insensitive” and applauded Prescott’s “tremendous courage” in publicly discussing his depression and anxiety.
Statement from Fox on Skip Bayless pic.twitter.com/zJZ35zuyzh
— Bob Williams (@WilliamsBob75) September 11, 2020
The network wrote that they discussed the issue with Bayless, but it remains to be seen if the commentator will face further repercussions moving forward.
- Read more:
- Dak Prescott wrote a letter to the governor of Oklahoma calling for the release of a Black man on death row, joining multiple high-profile athletes in his fight for justice
- Video shows NFL star Brandon Marshall arguing with security guards after they called the police on him for trying to move into his new house
- Patrick Beverley reportedly said ‘No, I pay your salary’ when the head of the NBA players’ union tried to speak in a meeting, but his Clippers teammate denied it ever happened
- Where are they now? The starters from Lionel Messi’s 2009 FC Barcelona squad that dominated Europe en route to 6 trophies
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