FOX Sports analyst Skip Bayless has a history of controversial statements, but many feel his words regarding Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin have crossed the line.
Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a Jan. 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He collapsed on the field and needed immediate CPR from the medical staff. Hamlin was transported to emergency care in Cincinnati, canceling the game with no rescheduling plans.
While analysts, fans and NFL players expressed support for Hamlin, Bayless questioned the game’s cancellation.
“No doubt the NFL is considering postponing the rest of this game – but how?” Bayless said on Twitter. “This late in the season, a game of this magnitude is crucial to the regular-season outcome, which suddenly seems so irrelevant.”
Bayless was criticized by many sports figures, such as ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins and former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. Bayless has apologized and tried convincing the public of his concern for Hamlin’s health, but most are not buying his statements.
Bayless has made a plethora of provocative remarks throughout his career, from diminishing Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s mental health to his constant critiques of LeBron James. Bayless has made a name for himself as a controversial sports pundit.
He disputed with Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens about his player antics, saying Owens was “divisive and disruptive.”
Bayless had visible tension with his co-anchors even recently. He got into a heated argument with former Undisputed! moderator Jenny Taft, when he commented on the weight of Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy.
In a Dec. 12 debate about Tom Brady, Bayless defended his performance against the San Francisco 49ers, saying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback is “way better than” his co-anchor Shannon Sharpe was during his playing days.
His comments about Hamlin again invited controversy. Jason Perry, assistant professor in Howard University’s sports management department, says Bayless plays this role as a veteran analyst.
“I think the backlash that continues to be shown towards Skip is due to him trying to justify his tweet instead of apologizing,” Perry said. “He has built a reputation on putting out hot takes and has become known as being a villain to some. He is a seasoned journalist and I think he was trying to live up to his reputation by putting out a tweet that was open to being negatively interpreted.”
Many fans and analysts paid tribute to Hamlin instead of focusing on Bayless’ words. NFL players across the league wore No. 3 in honor of the Bills’ safety during the final week of the regular season. His toy drive charity, the Chasing M’s Foundation, has raised millions of dollars since the injury.
Darnay Holmes, a third-year cornerback for the New York Giants, said, “I’m just happy that he is in better condition and God protected him and his family.”
After spending time in hospitals within Cincinnati and Buffalo, Hamlin was discharged from the Buffalo General Medical Center on Jan. 11. Despite Hamlin’s improving condition, Howard senior running back Ian Wheeler spoke about the importance of sensitivity toward athletes in situations involving injury.
“I’m honestly just glad he made it through the situation,” Wheeler said. “When you play, you know there are risks, but we do it because we love the sport and have worked to be great at it.”
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