From one Browns legend to another, Doug Dieken says Tom DeLeone was "was kind of the heartbeat of the Kardiac Kids."
DeLeone, the former Browns center and two-time Pro Bowler who was recently inducted into the team's Legends Club, died Sunday after a lengthy battle against brain cancer. He was 65.
And ClevelandBrowns.com pays homage in this week's edition of Throwback Thursday.
"Tom was a special guy," Dieken said on Cleveland Browns Daily on Monday. "He was a blue-collar, hard-working, tough, tenacious guy. He loved playing for Ohio State and he loved playing for the Browns. He was a battler and he battled a brain tumor about as long as I think you could. Unfortunately it ended."
DeLeone — a former Buckeye who spent 11 seasons with Cleveland from 1974-84 — was a key cog on the 1980 "Kardiac Kids" team that is still regarded as one of the franchise's most memorable clubs.
DeLeone was drafted by the Bengals in the fifth round of the 1972 draft and, eventually, became the Browns' starting center in 1975.
A look back at C Tom DeLeone.
To say DeLeone was tough might be an understatement. The Ravenna, Ohio, native started 92 consecutive games and earned the George Halas Award in 1976 as the NFL's most courageous player, an honor bestowed upon him after he played through the loss of his first wife, Susie, who died of cancer.
Undersized for an offensive lineman -- by both today and past standards -- DeLeone offset his 6-foot-2 250-pound frame with pluck and hard-nosed play
"He wasn't the biggest guy in the world, he wasn't the strongest guy in the world but he was probably the quickest center in the league and he maximized that and he maximized the use of leverage," Dieken said, adding, "He played hard and he played well. He was tough as can be. He was just a super tough guy."