Dak Prescott
Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News

On Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott opened up about his struggle with mental health during the quarantine. After losing his mother in January and then his older brother in April, Dak struggled with anxiety and depression to the point where he couldn’t work out for the upcoming season.

As I’m sure most sports fans have heard by now, former ESPN commentator Skip Bayless made some incredibly insensitive comments regarding Dak’s statement. Bayless stated, “…I don’t have sympathy for him going public with, ‘I got depressed’ and ‘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.”

Someone like Dak Prescott talking about his struggles with mental health is extremely important. He has such a large social platform and the ability to reach so many people because he is the quarterback of America’s team. It doesn’t show weakness; it shows vulnerability. It shows realness. It shows how normal it is to struggle with mental health.

On the contrary, having someone such as Skip Bayless with such insensitive and incompassionate things to say enables the stigma to grow.

Mental health in athletes is something that needs addressing from seniors in high school dieting religiously for D1 scholarships, to professionals seasoned in their fields, to stay at home moms, to teachers, to CNAs.

Brandon Marshall was a wide receiver for several teams in the NFL, including the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. He had multiple run-ins with the law throughout his college and professional careers—assault of a law enforcement officer, refusal to obey, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. In July of 2011, Brandon Marshall came forward with his diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). He’s now a huge advocate for mental health awareness.

Olympic swimmers Michael Phelps and Amanda Beard have both spoken publicly about their struggles with depression. NBA legend Jerry West wrote in his book about abuse as a child that led to depression. In a study conducted by the NCAA, the data shows that over 35% of athletes have struggled with mental illness. Symptoms can manifest in stress, performance anxiety, eating disorders, and burnout.

“I think being a leader is about being genuine and being real… I think it’s important to be vulnerable, to be genuine, to be transparent. I think that goes a long way when you’re a leader and when your voice is being heard by so many, and you can inspire.”

Prescott said

On Thursday, FOX Sports publicly condemned Bayless’ comments and stated how proud they were of Dak for speaking out. Bayless claims his remarks were “misconstrued”…my Aunt Petunia they were.

Dallas will take on the Chargers in LA on Sunday.