This Skip Bayless Profile May Make You Feel Sorry For Skip Bayless

A couple of paragraphs from Rick Maese's story in today's Washington Post:

At his core, he’s a man of routine, and at the beginning of each week, he orders five days’ worth of chicken and broccoli (no sauce), his nightly dinners. Every weekend he stops by the same Manhattan deli and buys five sandwiches to bring back to his weekday home in Connecticut, his daily lunch. He’s a health nut who exercises twice a day. Every Sunday morning is church, every Friday is date night and every evening in between is the same: chicken and broccoli — and sports.

And:

People don’t know who he is, Bayless concedes, and can’t fathom how much he’s sacrificed for this job, how he’s devoted every waking hour to winning made-for-TV sports debates. His daily routine is split between exercise — he’s 62 years old but has the body of a man half his age — and work. He’s divorced and childless and sees his good friends only once or twice a year. “No regrets,” he says. “This is my calling. I was born to do this.”

And this is even before you get to his alcoholic, distant father. "Just an evil man," Bayless calls him. He recounts how he legally changed his name to "Skip" so he wouldn't have to share a first name with the man.

The profile does not get to the bottom of the question on everyone's mind: Does Bayless truly believe the antagonistic nonsense he spews daily? He swears "from the bottom of my soul" that he's not playing a part. But maybe he's been playing it so long that it's no longer a role. Maese describes how Bayless realized the draw of contrarianism early on, and made a career out of it. "He had an ego like no one else in the world," a former co-worker recalls, and when Bayless's newspaper folded in 1991, he faxed his columns to those willing to pay a subscription. If he doesn't believe what he has to say, he knows people will pay to hear him say it.

If anything, Bayless comes off here as the consummate professional, living a self-imposed ascetic life in service of his work. Maybe he's not the bad guy. Maybe he's just very good at his job, and the bad guys are the executives and viewers who think it's a job worth doing.

Skip Bayless, ESPN2 “First Take” co-host, may be the most hated man in sports [Washington Post]