John Clayton, whose list of contacts in the NFL only matched the detail and commitment to his craft, died Friday in Washington after a brief illness, his family said.
He is 67 years old.
Clayton, nicknamed “Professor”, has been one of the nation’s leading NFL insiders for more than 20 decades with ESPN. As ESPN’s Chris Mortensen put it, Clayton’s search for news and information was done with great interest, saying “anyone who pays attention is a little educated.”
“Long before he became an ESPN icon, John could have been the best news-breaking team beat reporter of his generation, sitting in a story for months and breaking it without knowing what’s happening to others,” said Mike Santo of Clayton’s longtime friend The Athlete. . Personally, John was incredibly generous to me when I followed him as a Seahawks beat reporter for the Tacoma News Tribune many years ago. I am so indebted to John and miss him so much.
Clayton, originally from Prodak, Pennsylvania, began his career in 1972 with a season that included the Pittsburgh Steelers, including the “Immaculate Reception”. 10 days ago, he continued his work until he broke into Seattle. Seahawks’ blockbuster trade Russell Wilson To the Denver Broncos for Seattle Sports 710 AM, where he was a regular contributor.
“We all miss your words and wisdom @JohnClaytonNFL #RIPJohnClayton,” Wilson wrote in a tweetHe and Clayton’s former colleagues and friends took to social media on Friday night to share their memories.
“The Seahawks are heartbroken to learn of John Clayton’s death.” The team said in a statement. The Steelers called Clayton “A Pittsburgh Media Icon.”
“The number of NFL executives and coaches I’ve heard of has shown a great deal of respect and a sense of deep loss and shock,” Mortensen said.
Before running ESPN for more than 20 years, Clayton spent more than a decade at the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. After a long stint at ESPN, Clayton has written for several outlets in recent years, including the Washington Post, and has been a side correspondent for the Seahawks radio network for five seasons. He also contributed stories for KKFN-FM (104.3 FM) in Denver since February last year.
“John was a pioneer as an NFL insider, but also one of the kindest people you could ever work with,” said Seth Markman, ESPN’s Vice President and Managing Producer. On – from 6am to midnight, if you ask the professor, he was there for you. I also personally remember how Pat, who struggled with multiple sclerosis, loved and cared for his loving wife. We will all miss John greatly. “
In 2007, Clayton received the highest honor in the industry, known as the Bill Nunn Memorial Award. The award is presented annually by American pro football writers in recognition of their “longest and most prestigious reporting in the field of pro football”.
“This is the highest honor any writer can receive for covering this game,” Clayton said at the time.
The PFWA mourns the death of John Clayton. “The ‘Professor’ has been a friend to many in our profession. Our condolences to his wife Pat, family, colleagues and many of his friends.”
Clayton was also a longtime member of the selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
ESPN appointed Clayton in 1995 as the Jack-of-All-Trades for its NFL coverage. The makers of SportsCenter created the weekly division “Four Downs” and competed against Clayton against NFL analyst and former quarterback Sean Salisbury. It definitely became a must watch TV.
As he appeared in the “This is a sports center” ad for ESPN, these are the best in the popular segment to date. At Clayton’s appearance, at the sports center, wearing a coat and tie, Slayer tore off his T – shirt, pulled his long hair down, and jumped on the bed, shouting “Hey Ma!” I’ve finished my section. ”
Clayton began his illustrious reporting career involving the Steelers while still in high school. He studied at the University of Duquesne and was employed at the Pittsburgh Press when he was a senior at Duquesne.
His love for football has never changed since those early days.
“Until they raise me, I guess,” he told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette in 2018 when asked how long he’s been listening to the NFL. “I really like these things. What I like about them is that there are so many things that we could not access many years ago, and now we do – you’ll see payroll information, NFL game rewind, coaching tape. There is a lot of information. And analytical things, it’s unique.
His wife Pat to Clayton.
“Lifelong social media lover. Falls down a lot. Creator. Devoted food aficionado. Explorer. Typical troublemaker.”