CLEVELAND — For many, the game itself was almost secondary when it came to the Browns' season finale.
Sunday's clash against the Bengals technically didn't mean anything, what with Cincinnati already headed to the playoffs and Cleveland eliminated. However, don't tell that to the thousands of fans in the stadium or listening on the radio, for this was also the chance to say goodbye to a legend.
Earlier this week, Doug Dieken announced he would be retiring after five decades with the Browns. The 72-year-old spent 14 seasons as the team's starting left tackle, followed by 35 more as a color analyst on its radio broadcasts.
Today marked his final time calling the action from the press box, and he and play-by-play man Jim Donovan spent much of the afternoon reminiscing and soaking it in.
"It's been great working with you," "Diek" told Jimmy. "All the people [up here] have shown what teamwork is like, and it doesn't just exist on the field."
A sixth-round pick out of Illinois, Dieken protected the blindside from 1971-84, helping Cleveland to four playoff appearances during that stretch. He set an NFL record with 194 consecutive starts at the position, while also earning Pro Bowl honors during the 1980 "Kardiac Kids" season.
Immediately after his career ended, Dieken transition to broadcasting, working with late stalwarts Nev Chandler and Casey Coleman before becoming an ambassador for the Browns brand after Art Modell moved the team. When they returned in 1999, 3News' own Jim Donovan became the team's new "voice," and he and Diek worked together for the nest 23 years.
"I say for everybody — all of us here, all of the people listening, all of the people who filled these stadiums ... for years — we love you," Donovan said to his trusted radio partner.
In the second quarter, the Browns gave Dieken the ultimate honor by renaming the radio booth after him. Diek got the chance to address the fans directly as they cheered and chanted their praises.
Fittingly, the Browns sent Diek out in style with a 21-16 win over their in-state rivals. When the final whistle had sounded and it was time to sign off, Diek was nothing but classy and grateful, as always.
"They say 'Luckiest man in the world'? [I'm] pretty lucky," he said. "It's been an honor."
Re-listen to some of the top calls from Diek's final game: