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Posted by Sep - 9 - 2011 0 Comment

Lost in a lot of the lockout induced chaos this NFL offseason was a battle greater than labor peace, and that was fought by The Voice of the Browns, Jim Donovan. Back on May 25th, Donovan announced his intention to take a medical leave of absence to prepare for a June 7th bone marrow transplant in an effort to conquer the leukemia he’d been battling for the last 11 years. On Sunday, the man who has called every single Browns regular season game since the team’s return in 1999 will be right where he belongs, in the WMMS radio booth at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Here in Cleveland, we have been spoiled with some incredible radio broadcasters to be the voice of our teams. From Herb Score to Tom Hamilton, Gib Shanley to Jimmy D, and many in between. When I was a little kid, my Sundays were often spent listening to a small, green tabletop AM radio given to me by my grandfather to listen to the games that didn’t make it to TV. Back then, that was fairly often, so Gib Shanley described to me the details of each moment that transpired down at Cleveland Municipal Stadium where my parent sat watching the game from their season seats. Even as the Browns evolved into the competitive team that would make their way onto TV week in and week out, I lived to hear the radio description of each game, often turning down the sound on the TV to hear Nev Chandler describe in exquisite detail each important aspect of the game. When the evil known as cancer robbed us Northcoasters or Mr. Chandler, Casey Coleman rose to the task and carried the baton well until the team moved to Baltimore. His untimely passing came shortly thereafter. When the team was reborn in 1999, a new yet clearly recognizable voice took over.

The gentlemen that I have named to this point have brought their own style to describing sports on the Northcoast, each leaving an indelible stamp upon the games we love. Jim Donovan had done that, and more. He is everything a team, fan, and city could ever ask for as the voice of their beloved team. He is the consummate professional without sacrificing a personality that makes him so easily likable. His eloquent conveyance of the game is not showmanship, as he will never speak of the game as if he is part of it. Yet, Jim’s call of the game is as integral to the enjoyment of the broadcast as the elements he describes. He takes his responsibilities to the fans, the Browns, and the holy game itself with equal discretion and enthusiasm. His calls are as direct as they are descriptive, and he’s just as willing to take the Browns to task as he is to laud them in moments of glory. He makes the Browns greatest moments more memorable, and the the one’s we’d like to forget easier to take. He suffers with us when they lose, and shares in our elation with they win. Surely the call of “RUN WILLIAM, RUN!” will forever exist in the lexicon of Browns calls, perhaps being the most memorable ever. Despite Jim’s best efforts to simply describe each Browns play and segregate himself from it, we as fans wish nothing more than to share in those moments with him, as it is his amazing voice that provides color to all our ears take in. He is as much a part of our Browns as the orange helmet.

Some would say that someone who has had to not only watch, but describe each play of the Browns since 1999 is more than anyone should have to endure. Yet, Jim has done so battling one of the greatest evils we humans face, and done so unannounced and with quiet dignity. No greater testament to his professionalism can be stated than to think of the countless Sundays, both here and when travelling with the team on such limited physical strength. Yet his calls were strong, sometimes with more effort than the plays in which he described. Often, one of our worst days was better than one of Jim’s best. But you’d never know that. At least not by listening to him. And that’s just how he’d prefer it. As long as sports, radios, and TVs have coexisted, the debate about which sport is better suited for which medium. But the lines of that argument are skewed when somene can call a game, and describe in such vibrant detail to the point where you smell the grass, see the sun glint off the shining helmets, and feel each pebble of the football’s knurled surface – all with the sound of their voice. Blessed as Jim might be with his voice, we are blessed far greater that he has offered to use it to describe our Browns.

Please join us here at NorthCoastSportsBlog.com in welcoming Jim Donovan back to his rightful place on autumn Sunday afternoons.  We love you Jim. In Cleveland, you are the sound of football.


Categories: Cleveland Browns

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