Following the Cleveland Browns’ season-opening 24-3 win over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, long-time team radio voice Jim Donovan announced that he won’t be calling games for the foreseeable future. Donovan is set to take some medical leave from that role and his sports anchor duties at 3WKYC (the Cleveland NBC affiliate) while he undergoes leukemia treatment. Sports media veteran Chris Rose (currently of NFL Network, Jomboy Media, and more) is set to fill in on radio play-by-play, while regular commentators Nathan Zegura (booth analyst) and Je’Rod Cherry (sideline analyst/reporter) will continue in their roles. Here’s how Donovan announced that on the radio Sunday:
“I am going to have to step away to continue treatment of this relapse of leukemia that I’ve had, and I’ll be away for a while. You will be in great hands with Nathan and Je’Rod, and Chris Rose will come in and handle the play-by-play. I promise I’ll be a listener, and I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
Zegura then offers his own tribute to Donovan:
“And you’ll be back and you’ll be better than ever. And it was such a treat to have you here today, especially for a game like this, Jim. We’re all thinking of you, everyone in the city loves you, every Browns’ fan around the world loves you, and we can’t wait for you to be back in the booth.”
As per a piece from WKYC, Donovan (who has been the team’s radio voice since their 1999 return to the NFL, who’s been at WKYC since 1985, and who has also called national NFL games and Olympic events for NBC at times) was initially diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2000. That started a long battle with the disease, including a bone marrow transplant in the summer of 2011. Donovan has been largely healthy since then, but suffered a leukemia relapse a year and a half ago. He announced that to viewers this May:
“The goal is: got to get better, got to get healthy, got to move on. I know the deal, I’ve done it before, and I plan to do it once again. Through all of this, I will be here at Channel 3 and on the radio as much as I can be, but there will be periods of time that I might not be with you, maybe for a day, maybe for longer.”
That’s now turning into a longer absence on the Browns’ front. But Donovan said Sunday he hopes to return as soon as possible. We send him all the best in this fight.