Doug Dieken’s career with the Browns started nearly 40 years ago and it has not stopped since.
Dieken was drafted by the Browns in 1971 out of the University of Illinois and played in a franchise record 203 consecutive games over the course of his 14-year career in Cleveland. His 194 consecutive starts are also the most all-time by a Browns player.
Since his retirement following the 1984 season, Dieken has been in the broadcast booth as part of the Browns Radio Network. He has worked with Jim Mueller and the late Nev Chandler, as well as the late Casey Coleman and his current broadcast partner, Jim Donovan.
“I’ve enjoyed all 39 years,” Dieken said. “I’ve missed one game back in ’89 and that’s when my mother died. You talk about the streak of consecutive games or consecutive starts and I always call them consecutive paychecks earned and that’s important. I never wanted to be a freeloader, always wanted to be a guy on Sunday afternoon, when I walked out, ‘I did what I was supposed to or gave it the best shot I could.’
“I’m pretty lucky,” he added. “You’re doing something that you truly love. You’re involved with an organization that’s a big part of you. You build up relationships with not only your teammates, but the people in the community. People always come up with slogans, ‘Cleveland’s this’. Cleveland’s about the people. The people here are good people. There’s other towns in the NFL that we go to and I’m like, ‘God, I couldn’t live here. It would be tough.’ These people have been great to me and you try to give back to them if you can.”
A native of Streator, Illinois, Dieken has identified with the city of Cleveland since first arriving as a tight end and converting to left tackle.
“The people have been nice and the amazing thing is, they remember that you played and everything like that, but I think people also remember the things you do off the field,” Dieken said. “That’s kind of a nice feeling to have people come up and say, ‘You visited this kid in the hospital; you did this or you did that.’ Those are the things that are also meaningful because it’s not just about football; it’s about being part of Cleveland. The people have been great to me and I’ve enjoyed my tenure with the organization. A lot of guys, when they get out of football, they have withdrawal, but I was fortunate enough to get a job where I still was involved with the team and didn’t have to have the total separation.”
Dieken’s work with the Browns has never really ended, even when the team relocated to Baltimore and later became the Ravens after the 1995 season. He was happy to see the Browns return in 1999.
“I was involved in the three years they were gone with their sabbatical, so it’s up there. I’ve seen a few Browns games in my day,” Dieken said. “The period of time before the franchise came back in ’99, you try to promote Cleveland Browns football. In other cities, it might have been tougher, but in Cleveland, people are football people.
“They obviously wanted to talk football, wanted a football team,” he continued. “They got the team back, got the same name, got the same colors and that was, I think, very important to the people here. It’s something you wish never happened, but it did happen and it’s regained its course. Hopefully, it’s going to go in the right direction now.”
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