Stephen A. Smith And Skip Bayless Are "Best Friends," And Other Horrifying Things We've Learned About "Skippy"S

We learned yesterday that Skip Bayless was an Emmy nominee. O, were that where the parade of horrors ended. Instead, the New York Observer is here to torture us further, devoting a cool 2,000 words to a profile of Ol' Skippy. Here are some of the odious things you would read were you to read Thomas Golianopoulos's whole piece:

"Skip Bayless has been a journalist for over 30 years—that doesn't mean he is well-liked," First Take commentator Stephen A. Smith noted. "I'm one of his critics, and I'm one of his best friends. But even in the process of disagreeing with him, I will vouch for him as a man. His character is impeccable. He's just crazy in terms of some of the things he thinks."

Skip Bayless was raised in Oklahoma City, primarily by Katie Bell Henderson, an African-American woman employed by his grandmother. "My parents were both pretty much disasters—alcoholics both," he said. Although Oklahoma City was still segregated, he spent summers with Ms. Henderson's granddaughter Audrey, who would periodically visit from Chicago. Mr. Bayless, whose brother is celebrity chef Rick Bayless, said that growing up around African-Americans was crucial in shaping him. "Everything I learned about life, I learned from Katie Bell—rights and wrongs, principles," he said, adding, "I had a great connection [with African-Americans]. When we played the black teams, they always liked me. They called me Skippy. They would kid with me after the games." Nonetheless, he hastens to add, "I don't try to be black. I don't want to be the white black guy. I don't do that."

Mr. Bayless has told his First Take debate partners—the majority of whom are African-American—about Katie Bell and her influence on him, though he admitted, "I don't know if this offends them or if they take it the wrong way."

We've written before about Skip's Negro-baiting and this is a flimsy implicit justification of that behavior, saying that the blacks called him "Skippy" 50 years ago. Are some of your best friends black, Skippy? (Oh, wait! Refer to the previous blockquote!)

It's not terribly surprising but perhaps valuable to know that Skip informs his black partners that a black woman raised him. It is terribly surprising that Bayless has the self-awareness to see his habitual disclosure as a faux pas, although Bayless doesn't see enough wrong for him to stop.

Oh, there's this, too:

After the show, he often lifts weights. "I'm pretty ripped," he said confidently. "The pressure of the show drains me. It's why I work out so hard. It's why I'm jacked. I have to be to stand up to the beating of it."

Judging by his chosen extracurricular activity, Skip Bayless treats ESPN like prison. And given all the gay-baiting, race-baiting, and psychological terror the Worldwide Leader brings us, perhaps Skippy's onto something.

Skip Bayless FTW? One-on-One With ESPN's Top Trash Talker [New York Observer]