Joe Thomas Has Talked To Browns About Replacing Doug Dieken As Radio Analyst, But …

Joe Thomas is expected to be the Browns' top choice to replace Doug Dieken as Browns radio analyst, but it's not a done deal. (

Joe Thomas is expected to be the Browns' top choice to replace Doug Dieken as Browns radio analyst, but it's not a done deal. (

Joe Thomas has talked to Browns about replacing Doug Dieken as radio analyst, but …

You must have an active subscription to read this story.

Click Here to subscribe Now!

Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for and 850 ESPN Cleveland.

Joe Thomas replaced Doug Dieken as the Browns’ left tackle 23 years after Dieken retired as a player. Now Thomas may replace Dieken in the Doug Dieken Radio Booth.

Thomas disclosed in an appearance Thursday on The Really Big Show on 850 ESPN Cleveland that he is engaged in talks with the Browns to succeed Dieken as the team’s radio analyst.

“I am interested. Who wouldn’t be interested?” Thomas said. “I mean, if you’re a fan of the Browns like I am, a former player, that’s one of the most iconic and marquee positions within the NFL.”

Dieken retired as the team’s analyst after the final game in 2021. Jim Donovan was the third play-by-play announcer Dieken sat beside in 24 years as the radio analyst. The Browns renamed their radio booth in FirstEnergy Stadium in Dieken’s honor.

Thomas is a natural front-runner for the job. Since he retired following a Hall of Fame-worthy career of 11 seasons in 2017, Thomas has acquired extensive experience behind the microphone with NFL Network and Browns media platforms, along with hosting a popular podcast with former Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins.

But Thomas, who resides in suburban Madison, WI, said that his busy schedule and traveling concerns could be a deal-breaker.

“In a vacuum it’s a no-brainer,” Thomas said of the job, which has not been offered. “That is, first of all, a fun opportunity, right, to be able to do the radio and be part of those games. As a person not playing on the team any more that’s about as close as you could feel like you could be to the team. From that standpoint the fun would be 10 out of 10. You’d be breaking the fun meter every single weekend. The question is then is ‘How does that fit in with the rest of your life?’”

Thomas, 37, a 10-time Pro Bowler and eight-time All-Pro, is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time in 2023. Preliminary balloting for the 2023 induction class begins in September.

“I’m taking the approach that, I guess, if I’m lucky enough to be a first-ballot guy, I will worry about that when the time comes,” Thomas said. “But as of right now, it’s on my horizon and I know that I’m going to be eligible next year, but I haven’t thought about it too much.”

Tanks a lot

Thomas played through the 1-15 season of 2016 and saw his career end with a triceps injury in Game 7 of the 0-16 season of 2017. So he had a front-row seat on the first two seasons of Hue Jackson’s coaching era.

Thomas sounded a bit bemused by Jackson’s recent comments that he was unaware the Browns were in deep rebuild mode when he took over as coach in 2016.

“Who in Browns Nation didn’t realize that the team was on a deep rebuild and their focus was being competitive for championships three and four years down the line?” Thomas said with a laugh.

“I have a hard time believing that. Maybe his argument is the day he signed the contract ‘I was just excited about becoming the head coach and I really didn’t dive into the weeds of how the analytics side had come up with this plan where we said ‘Hey, If we don’t think we can win the Super Bowl this year because we don’t feel like you can win a Super Bowl without a franchise quarterback and the only way to get a franchise quarterback is to get top picks in the draft.’ 

"So rather than being competitive 8-8, or whatever, and then always being out of the market on one of those franchise quarterbacks, let’s save our resources, save our salary cap space, draft picks, trade for the future and then hopefully get our franchise quarterback build around him win 3-4 years down the line.

“Everybody who was a Browns fan knew that that’s what they were doing.”

Thomas disputed that the Browns “tanked” during Jackson’s first two seasons.

“To me, the word ‘tanking’ means you’re trying to lose a game,” he said. “Not you’re setting up a strategy to try and win in the future. Tanking is actively players and coaches doing things to lose. I don’t believe that’s something you see in sports. I think it’s important for people to understand there’s a difference between trying to maybe win a couple of years down the line and not dumping everything you have into winning that season and somebody who is actively trying to lose."

Despite Jackson’s portrayal of himself as a victim of front-office tanking, Thomas said he liked playing for Jackson.

“I’m probably the last Hue Jackson defender on Earth,” Thomas said.

 “Obviously, as a fan you see the record, you see the terrible team that we put out there so it’s easy to pin that on him. The thing I give him the most credit for in Cleveland was he would stand up in front of us every single week and he would make us believe and give us hope and optimism that we could still win that weekend even though every player in there, except for maybe some of the young guys, looked around and knew that the talent was not there to be competitive week to week.”

The NFL minority hiring problem

Thomas is sympathetic to the worsening minority hiring record of coaches in the NFL.

“When you hire a head coach,” he said, “you’re going to want to hire somebody that you feel like you can have a deep, personal relationship and partnership with. That’s kind of the relationship between head coach and owner. It’s one of the closest relationships in the entire building.

“If these owners that are largely solely responsible for making that hiring don’t feel like, maybe subconsciously, that they can make that connection, that personal partnership connection with somebody that maybe [they] don’t understand as well because they don’t have a lot of experience being around black people. Then, when they have that opportunity to make the most important hiring decision they’re going to, maybe subconsciously, skew to somebody they feel that they identify more with because they understand how they grew up.

“They understand their culture … and they’re going to feel more comfortable in those situations and maybe hire somebody that is a little bit more like them and had an experience that was more similar to them. And I think that’s the issue.”

 here for the complete interview with Joe Thomas via