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It wasn’t too long ago that the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants’ rivalry felt like a legitimate feud. Phil Simms and Skip Bayless surely remember how exciting things were during the ’80s.

The legendary Giants quarterback and controversial columnist-turned-TV pundit were on different sides of the rivalry for years. Things were so heated between the two teams at one point that Bayless levied an explosive accusation.

Skip Bayless alleged Phil Simms offered a $1,000 bounty against Cowboys DB Dextor Clinkscale

If you’re skeptical about how different the NFL was in the ’80s compared to now, consider that Tom Brady wasn’t an active quarterback yet. No, we’re not joking.

Let’s go back to 1985 for a second — a full 15 years before the New England Patriots used a sixth-round selection on Brady. The Cowboys, while still a perennial playoff team and en route to an NFC East division title, were nearing the end of the Tom Landry era. Conversely, the Giants had a strong-armed young quarterback in Simms leading the offense.

These two teams, put simply, did not like each other. In fact, Cowboys defensive back Dextor Clinkscale reportedly called Simms a “facade” and “myth” before a Sunday night showdown on Oct. 7, 1985. The LA Times printed his comments ahead of the game.

“The myth is that Phil Simms is a great quarterback, which he isn’t. He has no special gifts or intangibles like Joe Montana, Dan Marino, or even Joe Theismann,” stated Dextor Clinkscale.

Simms famously publicly replied, “Who the hell is Dextor Clinkscale?”

In his 1990 book God’s Coach, Bayless alleged Simms had a far different response behind closed doors. Now with ESPN’s First Take, the analyst wrote that Clinkscale was told the Giants’ star quarterback offered a $1,000 bounty to any teammate who knocked Clinkscale out of the game. As of October 2021, Simms had never publicly confirmed or addressed such a bounty.

Clinkscale lasted the entire night, a 30-29 Cowboys victory at Giants Stadium. Simms passed for 432 yards but also threw two interceptions, including one with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter.

“Simms threw a party,” Clinkscale said, “but he gave out too many gifts.” 

The Cowboys ran into future bounty issues later in the ’80s

We may never know for sure what happened with Simms and if Bayless’ allegation holds any truth to it. However, that wasn’t the only bounty issue the Cowboys ran into during the ’80s.

First-year ​​Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson accused the Philadelphia Eagles of offering a $200 bounty on kicker Luis Zendejas — who previously played for the Eagles for parts of two seasons — and a $500 bounty on quarterback Troy Aikman in November 1989.

According to The New York Times, Johnson blasted Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan after a 27-0 loss on Thanksgiving Day.

“I would have said something to Buddy, but he wouldn’t stand on the field long enough. He put his big fat rear end into the dressing room.”

Jimmy Johnson

Ryan said Johnson made excuses and resented the “fat” comment, adding that he thought he looked good.

The rivals met two weeks later at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Fans threw objects, including snowballs and ice, onto the field, directing the items at everyone from Johnson to the officials and broadcasters. The highly-favored Eagles — who entered the game as 17-point favorites — used a 17-point third quarter to win 20-10.

Bayless has a history of controversial accusations and comments

Compared to some of Bayless’ allegations and comments, his choice to write Simms reportedly offered a $1,000 bounty seems tame in retrospect.

Over the years, Bayless has accused Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James of everything from being disengaged to using injuries as excuses. Basketball fans could develop a responsible drinking game involving the veteran scribe’s constant tweets about the four-time NBA champion.

Bayless made insensitive comments about Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s mental health in September 2020. He apologized the next day and said he has “great compassion for anyone suffering from clinical depression.”


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It is worth noting that perhaps Bayless’ most famous accusation, which involved comments regarding Aikman’s sexuality, has been misreported. In his 1996 book Hell-Bent, Bayless accused then-Cowboys coach Barry Switzer of circulating a rumor that Aikman was gay. 

Bayless wondered aloud, “[W]hat should the sexual preference of a pro athlete matter to a journalist?” In later interviews, he said he regretted including the allegation in his book. Aikman has remained frustrated over the years. He criticized Fox Sports’ decision to hire Bayless in a 2016 interview with Sports Illustrated.

“I believe success is achieved by acquiring and developing talented, respected, and credible individuals, none of which applies to Skip Bayless.”

Troy Aikman

Considering how frequently Bayless has gone after quarterbacks in the NFC East, New York’s Daniel Joens and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts probably should stay on their toes.

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