Skip Bayless criticized Dak Prescott for going public with his mental health struggles after his brother’s suicide, but big names in sports have come to the QB’s defense

  • 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 criticized 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 defense and said his openness could help people "feel less alone and express themselves openly" and even save lives.
  • TW: mental illness and suicide.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

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."

Rick Osentoski/AP

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 grueling 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 — 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.

Ron Jenkins/AP

On Thursday, sports analyst and "Undisputed" co-host Skip Bayless criticized 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.

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 defense and commended him for his bravery while lambasting Bayless for his take.

Though Bayless didn't respond to the backlash from his comments, his employer — FOX Sports — condemned the remarks as "insensitive" and applauded Prescott's "tremendous courage" in publicly discussing his depression and anxiety.

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.

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