Former PCHS football coach dies
May 31, 2016
Tom DeLeone will be remembered by most for his time as a football player both with Ohio State University and the Cleveland Browns, where he was a two-time Pro Bowler.
But DeLeone, who died in the early morning of Sunday, May 22, at the age of 65, will be remembered in Park City as a teacher and assistant football coach at Park City High School. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011 and battled it for more than five years before his death last Sunday.
DeLeone was a longtime friend of former PCHS football coach Mike Shepherd, who said the former Browns star was popular among the Miners.
"He was terrific," Shepherd said. "Tom and I were friends for 25 years. He was with me the whole time I was coaching. The players loved him and we had a lot of terrific times together."
Shepherd said the way DeLeone was able to impart the wisdom gained during 12 years in the NFL to high school students was special.
"A lot of times, people who play at extremely high levels don’t relate well to high school kids," he said. "Tom was one of the exceptions. He made high school kids feel important and was always there for them. He was tough on them, but the players appreciated that. He pushed them hard, but at the same time, they knew he cared about them."
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DeLeone coached the offensive line and special teams during his time at PCHS. Shepherd said both he and the players appreciated the work he did with the team and the tales he’d tell about his playing career.
"If you talk to any of the linemen he coached, they’d tell you he was great," he said. "And he always had stories about playing for Woody Hayes at Ohio State and his time with the Cleveland Browns."
Even after the 2011 diagnosis, DeLeone continued doing what he could to assist Shepherd and the Miners.
"He was tired a lot, so he couldn’t really do the same things he previously had done," Shepherd said. "Over the course of time, he couldn’t do a lot of the things he used to do and I know that was frustrating for him. But he would come to practices and games whenever he could."
Even more important to Shepherd than the time spent on the football field are the memories he has of DeLeone as a friend. Shepherd said DeLeone was a man who kept his word and was always there for his friends.
"I was on a hike [recently] and I saw a motorcycle rider go by and it looked like the same kind of motorcycle Tom had and I had a flashback," he said. "We weren’t just co-football coaches — we were friends. You don’t find many friends as loyal as him."
DeLeone is survived by his wife, Mindy, and three children.
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