TIME-OUT WITH JOHN INMAN
By JOHN INMAN
Lots of rumors swirling around out there. Major League baseball, trades, free-agent signings, college coaches being fired and hired, college conference moves, who’s hot, who’s not, but I saw the other day a list of the top 10 worst sportswriters that intrigued me.
Guess who was No.1? Skip Bayless, my old buddy from Dallas. Yep, I always suspected he thought very highly of himself. I used to see Skip at all the Dallas Cowboys games when he was a know-it-all from the Dallas Times Herald (so he thought and still does) and I was a know-very-little from the Longview News-Journal (knew I was and still am).
I sometimes watch — on ESPN in the mornings just to see if he’s changed any. Of the 10 writers listed, he was at the top (or bottom, in this case). Here’s what was posted about him:
1. SKIP BAYLESS
First off, who the hell goes by the nickname Skip? Bayless is insanely nuts in many of his predictions. He always has his reasons, but it’s almost like he doesn’t know he’s lying to himself, a la Roger Clemens. I’m not sure what’s going on with Skip’s hair and sideburns, but for being nearly 60 years old he sure doesn’t look like it.
His nicknames may be the funniest, LeBrick James, Kevin Garnott, etc. If Bayless didn’t go out on a limb routinely he’d be all right, but going after Tiger Woods, Lebron James, and even saying Dirk Nowitzki isn’t the best European player to play in the NBA, I’d have to say he goes overboard on purpose for the sake of argument, no matter how asinine it is. I’m not sure Skip knows what comes out of his yapper half the time but it sure does provide entertainment. I’d like to see Skip take over a few episodes on the show Walker: Texas Ranger as Chuck Norris. He’d fit seamlessly. Anyways Norris, I mean Bayless, is in a league all by himself. I just wish that league was over in Europe.
It did my heart good to know that others think of him as I did (and still do). The guy has the knack to make people think he knows of what he speaks. I approached him when I realized he was originally from Oklahoma. We had at least that in common. He graduated from Northwest Classen in Oklahoma City and I from tiny Heavener. That’s where the comparisons stop, however.
He had his name legally changed from John Edward Bayless II because his parents began calling him Skip or Skipper as a kid. His brother is a chef and TV personality Rick Bayless, so maybe it’s a family thing. He attended Vanderbilt University and he lets all his viewers well aware of that factoid, too, because one of his favorite NFL players is quarterback Jay Cutler, of the Chicago Bears. Like Skip, he happens to be a grad of Vanderbilt.
Bayless went directly from Vanderbilt to The Miami Herald, where he wrote sports features for two years before being hired away by the Los Angeles Times where he was best known for investigative stories on the Dodgers’ clubhouse resentment of “golden boy” Steve Garvey and his celebrity wife Cyndy and on Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom’s behind-the-scenes decisions to start different quarterbacks each week (James Harris, Pat Haden or Ron Jaworski.)
All by the time he was 25, he said. He was then hired by The Dallas Morning News to write its lead sports column, and two years later, the rival Times Herald hired him away by making him one of the country’s highest paid sports columnists to battle the famed Blackie Sherrod, lead columnist of The Morning News for supremacy in Dallas.
I remember him telling me once how he had a miserable time when the Times Herald sent him to cover the British Open in England and he stayed to cover Wimbledon. He was gone for about a month on that peachy assignment and had to spend so much of the Herald’s money.
That’s too bad, having to spend a newspaper’s hard-earned money, huh. The Times Herald eventually sold … Bayless spent too much of its’ money, I guess.
In 1989, Bayless wrote God’s Coach, about the rise and fall of Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys. Following the Cowboy’ Super Bowl victory in 1993, he wrote The Boys, which broke the story that coach Jimmy Johnson and owner Jerry Jones were not “best friends” and correctly predicted that Jones would fire Johnson no matter how much success the team had. (Jones fired Johnson after the Cowboys won another Super Bowl the following year). He chose to leave Dallas after 17 years and I lost track of him for awhile, until he appeared on Cold Pizza, which later became First Take. I at first thought it was a guest appearance. Nope.
Skip has occasionally substituted as host for syndicated radio program The Jim Rome Show. He has also previously contributed to ESPN as a recurring panelist on The Sports Reporters, NFL Prime Monday (now ESPN Monday Night Countdown) in the 1990s, and Jim Rome is Burning. For three years (1998–2001), he was a contributor at major championships for the Golf Channel.
Skip is featured in debate segments every morning, and the segments are re-aired as First and 10 in the afternoons. Bayless debates the day’s 10 hottest sports topics with a rotation of sportswriters and ex-athletes including Stephen A. Smith, Greg Anthony, Jalen Rose, Marcellus Wiley, Shawn King, 2 Live (Ryan and Doug Stewart). Donavan McNabb, Chad Ochocinko, Donnie Wahlburg, and a few rappers have also taken on Skip, who has a very emotional approach to debating on the show and will often yell at his guests.
He rarely uses facts in his arguments and instead goes on his gut feelings, a sentiment that is rarely reciprocated by his guests, except for Smith. However, no true winner ever emerges from the debates on the show as that is not the aim of the show, even though Skip claims to win every argument. Recently, he has been tagged with the nickname “Skip Tebow” by many of his guests based on his apparent admiration of Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow. Skip openly embraces this nickname.
He, along with Woody Paige and Jay Crawford, appeared in a cameo role in the film Rocky Balboa. The three were seen on their First and 10 segment discussing a possible fight between a retired Balboa and current heavyweight champion Mason Dixon. Bayless was of the opinion that Balboa, “was completely overrated,” and mocked his age.
So, yeah, I can sorta see why Skip has become full of himself.
Until next week’s Time-out …