Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck took time off in 2011 due to a virus that affected the laryngeal nerve of his left vocal cord. Or so he said at the time - in an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated, Buck reveals that the damage to his voice was actually due to complications from an elective hair replacement procedure. He also reveals that he was addicted to hair plugs.
Buck tells his story in his upcoming memoir Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, And The Things I'm Not Allowed To Say On TV, and explained his ordeal to SI's Richard Deitsch in advance of its publication. He said that he was worried about losing his hair since his job as an on-air broadcaster often felt like it was contingent upon looks rather than skill. His first replacement treatment took place in 1993. From then on, he says, he was hooked.
In 2011, during his eighth replacement procedure, something went wrong and Buck was unable to talk when he woke up from the anesthetic. A doctor said it was nerve damage. Buck told the world it was a virus.
Buck tells Deitsch:
"I was lying. I think people bend the truth all the time, unfortunately. It was really for self-preservation and ego for me. As I look back, I gave partial truths. Where I lied was when I said the reason why. People would ask, 'Why is your vocal chord paralyzed?' I said it was a virus. I didn't say it was an elective procedure to add hair to the front of my head. It was embarrassing. There's an embarrassing element to that. Any surgery done to improve one's looks is not really something someone wants to talk about. So it's very cathartic to get this out. There are a lot of people across the country, for as silly as this sounds, who obsess about hair loss. I would tell myself I needed to look younger, I needed to have thicker hair, I don't want to look older than I am. The truth of it is that it was an ego thing, whether I was on TV or not."
Buck said the reason he was allowed back on air even though his voice wasn't as strong as it should be was due to the equity he'd built up at Fox Sports and his relationship with his bosses.
You can read the full interview here.