It’s understandable if you think of Skip Bayless as a machine that produces arguments and fabrications rather than as a human being. His grating personality has helped turn ESPN’s “First Take” into both a behemoth of sports talk television and the number four reason men ages 16-35 consider suicide, or at least trying out Fox Sports 1.
But under all that stupid and angry and misinformation and blustering is the soul of a man — a man who is addicted to his routines, who grew up in an abusive household, who actually has gained the respect of professional American athletes.
Here are six things about Skip Bayless we didn’t know before reading today’s profile on him in the Washington Post. You may not like Bayless after reading some of these things — we still don’t, for example — but you might get where he’s coming from:
He eats the same exact thing every weekday for lunch and dinner: deli sandwiches and CHINESE CHICKEN WITH BROCCOLI, NO SAUCE.
At his core, he’s a man of routine, and at the beginning of each week, he orders five days’ worth of chicken and broccoli (no sauce), his nightly dinners. Every weekend he stops by the same Manhattan deli and buys five sandwiches to bring back to his weekday home in Connecticut, his daily lunch.
His friends consider him a quiet, kind person.
“The Skip I know is a quiet guy,” says Perry Littlepage, who’s been friends with Bayless since second grade. “When we see him on TV, my wife says, ‘I can’t believe that’s Skip.’ ”
He’s the black sheep of his family because he’s not in the restaurant business.
He was the oldest of three children and his parents owned a barbecue restaurant in Oklahoma City…
Bayless’s brother has credited their father and their Hickory House restaurant with his own success. Three years younger, Rick Bayless stuck around food. He became a popular television chef on PBS, published nine books, opened some of Chicago’s best restaurants and is a favorite of the Obamas.
His father was an abusive alcholic.
Both of his parents, he says, were alcoholics, and his father was particularly rough with him. “My father was just an evil man,” he says…
Bayless’s father died of cirrhosis of the liver while he was away at Vanderbilt on a sportswriting scholarship in the 1970s. He returned to Oklahoma for the funeral but refused to help carry the casket. In the 1990s, Bayless legally changed his name to Skip, cutting off a final tie with his father.
He’s only gotten drunk once — during an interview with Joe Namath.
In 1977, as a 25-year old sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, Bayless had the exclusive that the legendary quarterback was retiring. Namath agreed to meet at a bar, but Bayless didn’t drink. He ordered red wine to be social and politely sipped his way through two glasses while Namath told old stories and welcomed new friends.
“I looked at my watch and realized I had to leave,” Bayless says. “I got up, planted to turn and completely lost my equilibrium and crashed into a man at the next table, falling on the floor. I looked up and Joe was leaning over me and said in an Alabama accent, ‘Son, you’re drunk.’ ”
He wins over those who see him work in person.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is as outspoken as anyone in the NFL. He once called Bayless an unflattering name for a jerk on air. Suggs has since been on the show several more times. “He knows more about sports and people than he leads on,” Suggs says. “He kind of has to play that person on TV — ‘I have to be the villain.’ But actually, he’s a pretty awesome person.”
The whole article is worth a read. Again, it doesn’t turn Skip into a likable human — but he is human, nonetheless. A human who eats chicken and broccoli every fucking day.
Photo via Getty