Chargers tight end Donald Parham Jr. was taken off the field on a stretcher early in the first quarter of Los Angeles’ game against Kansas City on Thursday after suffering what appeared to be a serious injury.
No details about Parham’s injury, which occurred when his head hit the turf, were immediately known. Regardless, Fox’s broadcast spent a significant amount of time both zooming in on Parham’s face in the aftermath of the injury and discussing the injury at length.
(UPDATE: The Chargers announced that Parham is expected to be released from the hospital on Friday after being diagnosed with a concussion. The team said that Parham was “resting comfortably” at the UCLA Harbor Medical Center.)
Both decisions were met with derision on Twitter, but play-by-play announcer Joe Buck’s comments about the injury in particular created a firestorm. Parham’s arms were shaking when he was being stretchered off the field. Buck said he didn’t want to speculate why, then proceeded to do exactly that.
LISTEN: Donald Parham Jr. is at the hospital with a brain/spine injury. Joe Buck says he’d never speculate on an injury, then speculates DP’s arm tremors were bc “it’s cold tonight, at least by Los Angeles standards.”
Ladies and gents, meet rock bottom for sports broadcasting. pic.twitter.com/s3RbdE0ouO
— Chris Nowinski, Ph.D. (@ChrisNowinski1) December 17, 2021
Buck made his comment flippantly and seemingly off the cuff, without a medical degree or authority of any kind on the topic. As a result, much of Twitter excoriated Buck for his misguided commentary.
Did Joe Buck actually just speculate that Donald Parham’s arms shaking because he was COLD
— Jeremy Layton (@JeremyLayt0n) December 17, 2021
Joe Buck just said he hopes the Chargers player having a seizure was because he was cold. He is in a dome. In Los Angeles. What a moron.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) December 17, 2021
I won’t speculate about what announcers are thinking, but it’s possible Joe Buck’s “maybe he was cold” explanation for a traumatic brain injury was an attempt to prevent viewers from thinking about how bad the sport we love is for the human brain
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) December 17, 2021
The Chargers later announced Parham was in stable condition at a local hospital and undergoing tests. As of the third quarter, Buck and Fox had yet to acknowledge or apologize for the long-time broadcaster’s poor choice of words.