Troy Aikman can't quit Skip Bayless.
Aikman, the ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback and longtime lead Fox Sports NFL analyst, has long been battling with Bayless, a former sportswriter turned TV yeller, over a book Bayless wrote more than 20 years ago that speculated that Aikman was gay.
Now that Bayless has been hired by Fox Sports, Aikman voiced his displeasure to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated:
"To say I'm disappointed in the hiring of Skip Bayless would be an enormous understatement," Aikman said. "Clearly, [Fox Sports president of national networks] 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."
Aikman has specific reasons to be unhappy with the Bayless hire, which was made by Horowitz but ultimately approved by Fox Sports president Eric Shanks. In a book ("Hell Bent") on the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s, Bayless made an unsubstantiated claim that Aikman was gay. The former Dallas Morning News sports editor Dave Smith told author Jeff Pearlman for his 2009 book on the Cowboys ("Boys Will Be Boys") that Bayless's "gay take on Aikman was the most unfair thing in my 45 years of journalism."
Deitsch points out that Aikman decided to stay with Fox after Bayless was signed, so Aikman's stand on principle clearly has a price tag.
Outsports has long been writing about this feud and think both men are acting like jerks. Bayless has made his living by being the loudest person in the room and the way he wrote about Aikman's sexuality was sloppy and unprofessional.
But c'mon. There is zero evidence Aikman's career has been affected one iota by what Bayless did. In addition, Aikman has always acted like the mere thought he was gay was an outrage ("I'm not so sure Skip's not gay," he once remarked in an interview where he hinted at physical violence should the two ever meet).
Aikman also insulted gay people last year in yet another slam at Bayless when he said: "If that is a lifestyle people choose, so be it. It doesn't affect me one way or another. But it is not my lifestyle."
Lifestyle? Zero sympathy for Aikman or Bayless. They deserve each other.