Former Browns left tackle Doug Dieken started his journey with the team more than 40 years ago, and has continued to make an impact in the Cleveland community through his work on the radio broadcasts and the Special Olympics.
For his accomplishments, Dieken was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards Dinner at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel on Thursday night.
“I guess it means I’ve been around a long time,” Dieken said. “It’s a nice honor. I came in here in 1971 and didn’t know how long I was going to last, but it’s become home. One of the reasons it’s become home is the people here are so nice. It’s always nice to live in a town where you feel comfortable, and these people have always made you feel comfortable. It’s a very nice honor.”
Dieken’s career in Cleveland started when he was selected with the first of the team’s two sixth-round picks in the 1971 NFL Draft out of the University of Illinois. Dieken then played in a franchise record 203 consecutive games over the course of his 14-year career with the Browns. His 194 consecutive starts are also the most ever by a player in Browns history.
Following his retirement after the 1984 season, Dieken joined the Browns Radio Network as a color analyst. It is a spot he has maintained for 28 straight years, working with Jim Mueller and the late Nev Chandler, as well as the late Casey Coleman and his current broadcast partner, Jim Donovan.
“Life is all about timing, and I just happened to be fortunate enough that Gib Shanley left and went to California and they were looking for a new play-by-play guy,” Dieken said. “Jim Mueller, who was doing the color, applied for that, and I was able to slip in. In that regard, the timing was great, much like as a player. When I got here, Dick Schafrath had gotten a little old and I had that opportunity. The only regret was I missed Blanton Collier by a year because I would’ve loved to play for him.”
Dieken, a native of Streator, Ill., has embraced the opportunity to remain in Cleveland even after his playing days concluded.“You feel with them,” Dieken said of connecting with the fans. “As a player, you had a different feeling. As a broadcaster, you’re more like one of them. In the old days at the old stadium, when you walked to your car across the street, you didn’t have to pick up The Plain Dealer to find out whether or not you had a good game. They let you know, and that’s the thing. They have a passion for their football, and it’s great to be around a bunch of people that really care.”