Skip Bayless Again, Trashing Someone Fascinating

“He’s always hated football,” says Skip Bayless, gesturing wildly and making angry face.

“A disgrace to humanity, Ricky Williams,” says Jay Mariotti, pointing and bobbing like a tough guy.

Two blogs ago, we discussed Skip Bayless’s racism. It is obvious, annoying and lucrative. Since then, I watched a documentary called “Run Ricky Run.”

“Run Ricky Run” is about Ricky Williams, who was a truly awesome running back. He won the Heisman trophy when he played in college at Texas. He was an NFL rushing leader. He kept testing positive for marijuana and getting suspended, though. He retired in his prime, only a week before the 2004 season began and after signing a huge contract with the Miami Dolphins.

When Williams first entered the league, as a top draft pick carrying enormous expectations, he gave interviews with his helmet on. He told his counselor he only felt safe at home, alone, in the dark. He admits he abused marijuana.

When he was young, he told his mother he wanted to grow up to be a police officer, so he could shoot his dad and get away with it. As a boy he also told his mother he had taken naked photographs of his father, because his father told him to. She found one of those photographs in the trash. The family was torn apart.

In the NFL, Williams set a two-year record for carries, meaning he ran the ball more times over two years than any other player, ever. He was fast, nasty and powerful, but his body took a beating. He wondered about his concussions and the other repeated injuries he endured. He retired and traveled the world, until he came back and played really great again.

“Run Ricky Run’s” director, Sean Pamphilon, narrates a scene late in his movie where we see Williams jogging at a park: “Shortly after turning 30 he looked me dead in the eye, 30 minutes after I shot this footage, and said ‘If I could get my head right, I could be the best player in the NFL.'”

He couldn’t get his head right. Powerful personal and psychological issues were impacting the decisions he made about what to do in life, while it just so happened he was one of the best football players in the world. That’s an amazing, and very human, story.

Skip Bayless, though, went on TV and declared that Ricky Williams hates football. I saw him say so in this movie last night and was disgusted. (He’s also quoted thusly: “So I say, ‘Great. Disappear and smoke away the rest of your life.'”) Skip lives to make mean, angry comments about athletes without any regard for context, an inspiration to clones like the despicable Jay Mariotti.

Bayless is entitled to his living, I guess, but there’s no soul in his schtick. He’s a dumb and incurious id, plowing forward with no regard for what’s right or good.

There is a huge market for these Skip-inspired TV “personalities,” who take turns trashing athletes in one-minute monologues on TV and in radio. It sucks. They make sports worse.

In fact, why am I writing about him? That’s what he wants! Meet me on the next blog. I got something to add on “Breaking Bad” and the weight of our souls.

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