LONDON —** For the first time in almost 30 years, Doug Dieken won't be in the Browns' radio booth Sunday morning at Twickenham Stadium.
Dieken, the former Browns offensive lineman turned Browns Radio Network analyst, did not make the trip to London for a game against the Vikings because of an undisclosed illness.
"We understand Diek's a little under the weather and his doctor didn't want him to travel. In talking to him, he was pretty upset but he's confident that he will back to our broadcast soon," senior vice president of communications Peter John-Baptiste said.
"In our team mantra of next man up (Cleveland Browns Daily host) Nathan Zegura will leave the sidelines and join (Browns play-by-play announcer) Jimmy (Donovan) in the both. Nathan knows these are tough shoes to fill but we expect him to keep Diek's seat warm."
Dieken, who joined the team's radio broadcast crew in 1985 following a 14-year playing career in Cleveland, has only missed one game (Tampa Bay, 1989) in that span.
"It'll be something that I've never experienced before because I've never experienced doing a Browns game without having him beside me," said Donovan, who has been Dieken's broadcast partner for the past two decades. "It'll be very very strange because I thoroughly enjoy being with him." Dieken was selected in the sixth round of the 1971 NFL Draft and played in a franchise record 203 consecutive game. His 194 consecutive starts are also the most all-time by a Browns player. These days, Dieken is a friendly and familiar face around the team's Berea headquarters.
"He's like my best friend," Donovan said. "He must have been, let me say this, an incredible teammate when he was a Cleveland Brown because, we're a radio team, but he's just an incredible friend because he's alway very concerned about you." Dieken's absence comes as the Browns will be without Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, who suffered a season-ending triceps injury in last week's loss to the Titans, for the first time in a decade. Thomas, drafted in 2007, had never missed a game and played in 10,363 consecutive snaps.
The pair, who have grown close over the years, will be missed across the pond.
"Tough for us not to have Diek here with the team," John-Baptiste said. "It's a little odd that the guy that never missed a Browns game during his playing career is only missing his second game since he joined our organization when his fellow Number 73 is missing his first."
Added Donovan: "It'll be great to see him when we get back."