There couldn’t be a better Cleveland Browns broadcaster than No. 73 Doug Dieken, but if someone could come close, it would be No. 73, Joe Thomas
There’s only one man alive who could actually replace No. 73 Doug Dieken as a broadcaster for the Cleveland Browns, and that is No. 73, Joe Thomas, the future Hall of Famer. The only question is whether he would do it or not.
Thomas was part of the WEWS Channel 5 broadcast team in the preseason, and he was great. Nobody knows the game better, and nobody has a better rapport with the Cleveland fans. The only problem is that the rest of the sports world has also discovered our guy.
Since retiring from the trenches, Thomas has worked as an analyst for the NFL Network, appearing on pre-game and post-game Thursday Night Football.
He also co-hosts the Thom & Hawk Show with fellow former Browns player Andrew Hawkins. He makes national media appearances and generates rave reviews. Would he be willing to be tethered to Cleveland on Sunday, or will the national media grab him?
Doug Dieken’s job was protecting the likes of Bill Nelson, Mike Phipps, Brian Sipe, and Paul McDonald. And protect them he did. Quickly now, what Browns tackle holds the consecutive starts streak at left tackle. No. 73, right? That’s correct. But it was not Joe Thomas, it was Doug Dieken.
That’s true. If you want to win some sucker bets, try this one at your next Browns Backers meeting. No one will believe it, but it is true.
Doug Dieken never missed a game in 14 years. Joe Thomas never missed a snap in 11 years. Advantage, Dieken. They didn’t count missed snaps back then, so perhaps old Doug might have taken a breather here and there. Has anybody ever asked him? But for sure he played in 194 consecutive starts.
There were nine additional games that he played back in his rookie year that he didn’t start, for a total of 203 consecutive games played. Face it, Cleveland Browns linemen are mutants.
By the way, if you look up his record and wonder why he had only nine games in 1982, it was because the NFL had a strike that year. Dieken played into the beginning of the Marty Schottenheimer era.
Joe Thomas never played in Cleveland Municipal Stadium but played in the new stadium for a long list of quarterbacks in a never-ending rebuilding process, but never got to block for Baker Mayfield. He retired after his consecutive snap streak was broken at 10,363 in the 2017 season.
Dieken was the consummate announcer. He was passionate about the Browns but kept his cool. On borderline officiating calls, he would usually advocate the Browns’ perspective, but he never whined about it. He realized that every job in the NFL is difficult, including the officiating, so he had a little more sympathy for the officials even when the calls went against the Browns.
Likewise, he tended to not criticize the Browns players as long as the effort was there, but he could be a tough critic when the situation called for it.
Joe Thomas is the same kind of person. Tough, but highly intelligent and friendly. Fans have always loved him, but at the same time, he has not craved the spotlight. Remember when he was drafted? Old Joe decided it was more important to go on a camping and fishing trip with his family rather than put on a suit and tie and be on TV in New York City. The Browns were okay with that, thank goodness.
Joe is not the type of person to do something for personal glory, or just to make money. The only question is whether he wants to succeed his pal Doug Dieken or not. What do you say, Joe? Will you do it?