It will be the end of an amazing era on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
After more than 50 years with the Cleveland Browns organization, first as a stellar left tackle and then as one of the radio voices of the team, Doug Dieken is retiring after Cleveland’s home finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sunday’s season finale will be Doug Dieken’s final game inside the radio booth.— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 4, 2022
The #Browns Legend is calling it a career after 50 combined years as a player, radio color analyst and exemplary ambassador for our organization.
Dieken issued a statement through the team’s website thanking the organization and the fans for a love affair that began in 1971:
“It’s been a great ride. I want to thank the Browns’ fans for accepting me first as a player and then as a broadcaster. I’ve had the most fantastic teammates on the field, in the radio booth, and in the community to make the last 50 years fun. We didn’t get the wins we all hoped for, but I feel like I’m leaving a winner because of my association with the organization and the great fans who listen to our broadcasts.”
The 72-year-old Dieken, who has had both knees replaced and both hips replaced, also said he is leaving now partially for health reasons, according to Terry Pluto at cleveland.com:
“I’m going to walk away from the press box while I can still walk away from the press box. Health-wise, it’s been tough for me lately. Some of the medication, it takes a lot out of me. At one point, I needed to take a cart to get back to my car from the stadium. I’ve milked a lot out of this body.”
Dieken first arrived in Cleveland in 1971 as a sixth-round draft selection out of the University of Illinois. A tight end in college, he converted to offensive tackle in the NFL.
He moved into the starting lineup in mid-November of his rookie year and stayed there until the end of the 1984 season - a string of 194 consecutive games that remains an NFL record for offensive tackles, according to the team’s website.
Along the way he earned one trip to the Pro Bowl, in 1980, protected a league MVP in Brian Sipe, and helped lead the way for 1,000-yard rushing seasons from Mike Pruitt (four times) and Greg Pruitt (three times).
His durability was a comforting site, Sipe told clevelandbrowns.com:
“He’s the only left tackle I ever knew. He won that job before I got there, and he was there when I left. He was dependable. That’s the thing about Doug. I never had to think twice about what was happening on that left edge. He just got the job done. He was a fierce competitor. We kidded him a lot. He relished the fact that there were always arguments on the field because of his holding, which I personally was grateful for. He was proud of it. It’s a testament to his effectiveness. He just frustrated people, and that’s how good he was.”
After retiring, Dieken transitioned to the radio booth for the 1985 season, first working with Nev Chandler until Chandler step away after the 1993 season. Dieken then worked with Casey Coleman from 1994 to 1995, and returned to the booth with Jim Donovan in 1999 when the Browns came back to the NFL.
Dieken was as durable in the booth as he was on the field, missing just two games in 34 years, and made a perfect radio partner, Donovan told the team’s website:
“We really always approached it like we were two friends sitting together with seats beside each other, and we were going to watch the game and talk back and forth. It really worked. We both understood what our strengths were. I wasn’t going to analyze the game. I wasn’t going to be the football guy, and he wasn’t going to be the play-by-play guy. We understood that we each had our own territory and weren’t going to invade the other guy’s territory. We respected the jobs that each one of us had to do. I think that started from the very first time we did it and it really remained that way. It never changed because it worked so well.”
The Browns will honor Dieken during Sunday’s game and begin a search for his replacement - if such a thing is possible - in the offseason.