Had Skip Bayless published his book "Hell Bent" (a glance at the 1990s Dallas Cowboys) during today's climate, there is no way he would be one of the highest paid sports media members in the country.
Questioning a person's sexuality in a public forum is a definite no-no in 2016, but Bayless saw his career eventually thrive despite publishing unfounded claims that then-Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman was gay.
Aikman, who is the lead analyst for the NFL on FOX, shredded Bayless in an interview with SI's Richard Deitsch on Tuesday. Bayless recently make the jump from ESPN to FOX Sports.
"To say I'm disappointed in the hiring of Skip Bayless would be an enormous understatement," Aikmain told Deitsch. "Clearly, [Fox Sports president] Jamie Horowitz and I have a difference of opinion when it comes to building a successful organization. I believe success is achieved by acquiring and developing talented, respected and credible individuals, none of which applies to Skip Bayless."
Bayless discussed his thought-process regarding the publishing of the Aikman gay rumors with thestartingfive.net in 2009.
Emmit was hurt that game. He had a pulled hamstring, tried to go but wasn’t effective.
That opened the floodgates of emotion. We went into the next camp and it became open warfare between Barry and Troy.
In those days, I called my agent and said you aren’t going to believe this but I am sitting on one of the most incredible soap opera stories that you could ever imagine. The coach and the quarterback are getting to the point where they don’t even speak to each other. My agent asked me if I wanted to shop this and if anybody would buy it and I didn’t know. I said it’s incredible. It’s better than God’s Coach or The Boys. She said that we should try.
I did another proposal and she had like seven or eight publishers interested in it. Auctioned it off and it ended up with Harper Collins. It was gonna be another season inside another extremely talented, extremely troubled football team. If I could have written my proposal after the year, my proposal would have been ten times richer and stronger than it was before the year because it became better than fiction what happened as the season unfolded.
Again, open warfare between Aikman and Switzer. I was close to Barry and also his daughter, Kathy–who basically lived with him. She was a close friend of mine, so I was privy to a lot of things most people weren’t privy to.
The first thing that came up was that Norv Turner had left to go coach the Redskins. Troy loved Norv Turner because he was his quarterback coach the first Super Bowl go around. They were like big brother, little brother. Barry became convinced that Troy wanted to get Barry fired and Norv hired in Dallas.
I believe there was a lot of truth to that. Barry claimed–and I know this seems out there, but the facts are the facts–that Troy played less than his best in both Washington games. You know how that rivalry is. The ‘Skins weren’t that good and beat the eventual Super Bowl Champions in both games–including the one in Texas Stadium. It wasn’t as Switzer described it as “throwing the games”, he just thought Troy’s heart wasn’t in those games in part because he just wanted to get Norv Turner back and the quickest way to get the Cowboy coach fired was to lose to the rival, Redskins.
In the second Redskins game on December the 3rd, 1995, at Texas Stadium, an incident occurred during the game in which Kevin Williams–the little wide out from (University of) Miami–ran a wrong route according to Troy. It was a route that during practice that week, Kevin Williams and Michael Irvin and the other receivers were cutting up and goofing around. They weren’t running with any discipline and because of that inattention to detail in practice, Kevin Williams ran a wrong route on a 3rd and 8 play in this home loss to the Redskins that caused a misfire and an incompletion.
When they came to the sidelines and according to numerous people within earshot, Troy Aikman calls Kevin Williams a n word out of rage.
Well as you well know, this would just not fly on the sideline of a pro football game or anylocker room. It was just not allowed. Sorry, you cannot cross that line. One of the assistant coaches, John Blake, who is now recruiting for the University of North Carolina and had another sensational recruiting class, was apparently Switzer’s right hand guy at Oklahoma and became the head coach at Oklahoma. John Blake told me that he heard it and was just outraged over it. He was stunned by it. It spread very quickly through the Black players on the team. Switzer was closer to the Black athlete than he was the White athlete for the most part. Switzer had a deep heart for the plight of the Black athlete. He was not going to accept the n word from his quarterback in anger in some sideline fit. The secretary called Troy that night and told him to be in Barry’s office at 9 in the morning. Troy came in thinking Barry was gonna give him a pat on the back and of course Barry laid down the law and told Troy either he was going to apologize to the rest of the team when they came in today at 1:00 pm or he was going to have to apologize for Troy.
Troy was so angered by that ultimatum that he just (according to Troy) launched right out of that office and the two of them refused to speak to each other from December 4th all the way to the Super Bowl that they won in spite of each other.
This lead to incredible mudslinging back and forth and I’m sure you know about this and it became the flash part of the book but shouldn’t have been. It was just another wanna be incredible incidents between the two but, the Troy Aikman gay rumors had been in Dallas for several years. I did talk radio in Dallas and I would get at least one call a week from someone asking if Troy Aikman is gay. I would hear about the various incidents and would not pay too much attention to them until Switzer asked me at one point if it was true. I told him I didn’t know. His quote was, “You know this is incredible. I gotta take all this shit off this kid and he’s queer!”
He challenged some of the other reporters also telling them to tell the truth about Troy and saying he’s a hypocrite. He was saying here he is doing all these commercials for Brut cologne and Acme Brick in Dallas…these sorta macho adds…and he is not what he appears to be.
It went all the way to the period where I was writing the book and Barry called me one day at home and asked me what’s going on. He said he heard I was having trouble with Aikman–which I certainly did because I was trying to write the book. Troy would call me at home saying I can’t write this and I can’t write that. It really wasn’t about the gay stuff. It was about the n word and game throwing. Barry would say he’s just afraid you are gonna write the gay stuff. I told Barry I had no idea and nor do I care if he’s gay or not. It definitely became part of the clash and mudslinging between the two of them.
Again, Barry just went off on this tirade saying many security people have told him about this incident and this and this and this.
So I just wrote it became the clash between the two. My only regret about the book is that it does not say that Aikman is gay. I had no idea and nor do I care to this day.
A number of the Black players–with whom I was close–contended that he was bisexual.
They didn’t like him to start with because he was distant, knee jerk emotional, quick tempered. His friends on the team loved him for one reason and that was because he could play. When it was time to play, he performed.
Deep down…trust me…the stars on that team…the Black players…and you know who they are…they didn’t like the guy (Aikman).
I wrote, Hell-Bent: The Crazy Truth About the “Win or Else” Dallas Cowboys, and it’s the best read of each of my three books. Maybe not the best writing–once again extreme deadline.
I also knew I had to go back and live with them because I had no plans on leaving Dallas. I wish I could have written it even harder than I did because I felt like I tip toed through some of it.
I wish I had sledgehammered it because it was the truth and everyone who knew what was going on inside the locker room told me the book was a terrific job and that I nailed it.
Because I did. It’s exactly what happened. All I heard from people around the country who didn’t read the book was, “You outed Troy Aikman?”
I didn’t. The coach definitely thought he was gay and a lot of his teammates thought he was gay. More than that, they thought he was racist and they thought he was trying to get Barry Switzer.
I basically think he did get Barry Switzer before it was over.
So those are the tales of my books.