The Kardiac Kids The Cleveland Browns as immortalized in the song “12 Days of Cleveland Browns Christmas” 1980
Celebrating the team’s first playoff berth since 1972, “12 Days of Cleveland Browns Christmas” buoyed Browns fans’ hopes for a Super Bowl appearance. Of course, the Oakland Raiders had other plans. But why dwell on that? Here’s what happened to the players name-checked in the song. Go ahead and sing. You know how it goes.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, Art Modell gave to me …
… the Browns in the playoffs >> The Browns have made the playoffs eight times since the 1980 season, most recently in 2002, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round 36-33.
… Dave Logan leapin’ >> Logan is the broadcast voice of the Denver Broncos, the host of a popular four-hour radio talk show and the head football coach at J. K. Mullen High School in Denver. “It was an unbelievably fun season to be part of,” he recalls. “I spent a good amount of my time up in the air.” Logan lives in Greenwood Village, Colo.
… Doug Dieken blockin’ >> Dieken resides in Bay Village and is the color commentator for Browns radio broadcasts. He also appears on Channel 3’s The Point After. Whether a player or broadcaster, Dieken has been a part of more than 700 Browns games. “I was so happy they said ‘Doug Dieken blockin’ ’ instead of ‘Doug Dieken holdin’, ’ ” he says. “It was a running joke with the holding penalties.”
… DeLeone a hikin’ >> Currently working as a substitute teacher, Tom DeLeone retired from football in 1984. After, he worked for the United States government for 22 years, 18 in U.S. Customs. “The city was going kind of crazy then toward the Kardiac Kids,” he recalls. “When I heard that song, I said, ‘Oh my God, they’ve gone over the edge.’ ” DeLeone and his wife, Mindy, reside in Park City, Utah.
… Kardiac Kids a winnin’ >> Coach Sam Rutigliano says NFL Films’ Steve Sabol coined the name while titling a reel of game footage from the ’79 season, when seven of the Browns’ nine victories were by seven points or less.
… Darden interceptin’ >> Today, Thom Darden owns and operates two businesses, The Darden Group and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides assistance to schoolchildren who are struggling in basic skills testing. Darden and his wife, Melissa, live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “[The song] was a great tribute to the guys that were mentioned, as well as the team,” he says.
… Newsome a catchin’ >> Ozzie Newsome retired in 1990 and started working in the Browns’ front office in 1991 before moving with the team to Baltimore in 1996. In 2002, he was named general manager of the Baltimore Ravens and became the first African-American general manager in the NFL. He and his wife, Gloria, live in Cockeysville, Md. “The way the team played and the fashion in which we won games really allowed the city to have a lot of pride in itself,” he says of the 1980 season.
… both the Pruitts’ moves >> Greg Pruitt has made Ohio his home and owns a residential construction business, Pruitt & Associates. He and his wife, Mary, live in Shaker Heights. Mike Pruitt started a career in the automotive business. During the 1990s, he owned a Ford and Lincoln-Mercury-Mazda dealership in Lima, Ohio. Today, Pruitt owns and operates a Honda superstore in Akron and lives in Strongsville with his wife, Denise.
… Alzado attackin’ >> Lyle Alzado died from an inoperable brain tumor in 1992. He left behind his wife, Kathy, and son, Justin.
… Brian Sipe a passin’ >> In 2009, Sipe was hired by his alma mater, San Diego State, as the team’s assistant quarterbacks coach. After retiring in 1985, Sipe returned to California and established his own company, Sipe Design. In 2001, he was named head coach of Santa Fe Christian School in Solana Beach. He lives in Del Mar, Calif., with his wife, Jeri.
… Don Cockroft kickin’ >> Cockroft is completing his book, The 1980 Kardiac Kids — Our Untold Stories (thekardiackids.com). A mortgage-loan specialist, Cockroft and his wife, Barb, live in Canton. “I was signing autographs once, and a woman asked me, ‘Sonny, why in the hell didn’t you kick [a field goal] against the Raiders?’ I said, ‘Ma’am, you’re the 1 millionth person who’s asked me that question.’ ”
… on a Rutigliano Super Bowl team. >> Former Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano is now an analyst for both SportsTime Ohio and Channel 3. After leaving the Browns in 1984, he worked in television as a football analyst before returning to coaching. After 11 successful seasons as the head coach at Liberty University, Rutigliano retired. He and his wife, Barb, live in Waite Hill.
Grew up watching the Browns. I was stationed overseas during the Kardiac Kids reign. A big Dallas Cowboy's fan avoided me for a month after the Browns beat them. Came home on leave in time to see one game...Browns vs Raiders in the play-off. Still, when you're half a world away from home it was great to hear of the Season of the Kardiac Kids. So close!