Before he was a professional devil's advocate on ESPN's morning yap programs, Skip Bayless was a semi-successful writer. And his ink-stained career is probably best remembered for pissing the shit out of Troy Aikman.
Michael Tillery, in one of his patented lonnnng interviews spoke with Bayless about everything from his journalism roots, to his pre-journo professional athlete dreams, to some of the famous ball-chuckers he's covered during his career. And then there's the infamous "Aikman is gay" incident, covered in Bayless' book "Hellbent: The Crazy Truth About The Dallas Cowboys" which reportedly got the Cowboys' quarterback so upset he considered hiring somebody to beat the crap out of Skip. Of course, Tillery asks about it and Bayless spills. Here's a brief synopsis so the excerpts make more sense: Bayless is close with Barry Switzer. That's all you really need to know.
• On Aikman tanking during the Redskins game, due to his close relationship with Norv Turner:
" 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."
• On Aikman calling Cowboys' defensive tackle Kevin Williams a word that rhymes with bigger:
"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."
• On Aikman being gay:
[T]he 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 from this kid and he's queer!"
• On Aikman's reaction to book
"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."
• And, finally, so is Aikman gay?
"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)."
They should really have Aikman substitute for Jemele Hill on First And Ten at some point. That would be the most watched ESPN program in history.
The Skip Bayless Interview: Part 1 [The Starting Five] [Part II runs today]
PHOTO: (Borrowed from the kind folks at D Magazine, whose executive editor, Tim Ross, is a fantastic human being blessed with an equitable mind and dogged due-diligence. Go read their magazine. They fucking rock. Even if you're not from Dallas. Seriously! Go read it. Now! And look! They have other old photos of Bayless!Whoopity shitcakes!)