Recently, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott opened up about his mental health battle following the death of his older brother, Jace, and the harsh reality of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prescott explained that during the offseason he dealt with anxiety and depression in the wake of the events.
"When you have thoughts that you've never had, I think that's more so than anything a chance to realize it and recognize it, to be vulnerable about it," Prescott said, via ESPN. "Talked to my family, talked to the people around me simply as I did at the time. Some of them obviously had dealt with it before, was able to have those conversations and then reach out further just to more people."
A brave admission for Prescott, it's not always easy for an athlete constantly in the public's eye to open up and show his vulnerability. Yet, the sharing of his story was an important step in destigmatizing mental illness.
Many had reactions to Prescott's reveal, including FOX Sports personality Skip Bayless. On the show "Undisputed," Bayless stated that he understood the seriousness of mental illness but that Prescott's standing as an NFL quarterback means he needs to rise above the problem and be there for his team.
“I have deep compassion for clinical depression, but when it comes to the quarterback of an NFL team…it’s the ultimate leadership position in sports," Bayless said. “Because of all that, I don’t have sympathy for him going public with ‘I got depressed.'"
Strong words, many viewed Bayless' explanation as insensitive. Reactions on social media swarmed in as many notable sports personalities defended Prescott and blasted Bayless.
Prescott's former teammate Dez Bryant tweeted out an explicit response to Bayless, while Dak's brother, Tad Prescott, thanked others for their support. Cowboys linebacker Justin March, who went through a similar situation to Prescott's, tweeted that he understands what his teammate is going through.
NBA star Kevin Love, who opened up about his own mental health battle in the past, stated that Prescott's status as an NFL QB made his admission even more brave and important.
Other sports personalities and athletes chimed in as well.