John Clayton, longtime NFL reporter and radio host, dies at 67


John Clayton, whose listing of contacts within the NFL was matched solely by his consideration to element and dedication to his craft, died Friday in Washington after a quick sickness, his household stated.

He was 67.

Clayton, nicknamed “The Professor,” was one of many nation’s foremost NFL insiders in a five-decade profession that included over 20 years with ESPN. Clayton’s pursuit of stories and data was achieved with such fervor that, as ESPN’s Chris Mortensen stated, “Anybody paying consideration walked away a bit extra educated.”

“Lengthy earlier than he grew to become an ESPN icon, John might need been the most effective news-breaking group beat reporter of his era, the kind who might sit on a narrative for months after which break it earlier than others had any clue what was happening,” stated The Athletic’s Mike Sando, a longtime buddy of Clayton’s. “He was that good. On a private stage, John was extremely beneficiant to me after I succeeded him because the Seahawks beat reporter on the Tacoma Information Tribune a few years in the past. I owe a lot to John and can miss him terribly.”

Clayton, a local of Braddock, Pennsylvania, started his profession in 1972 as an adolescent overlaying the Pittsburgh Steelers in a season that included the “Immaculate Reception.” He then attended Duquesne College and was employed by the Pittsburgh Press when he was a senior at Duquesne. He continued his work up till simply 10 days in the past, when he broke down the Seattle Seahawks‘ blockbuster commerce of Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos for Seattle Sports activities 710 AM, the place he was a daily contributor.

“We’ll all miss your phrases and brilliance @JohnClaytonNFL #RIPJohnClayton,” Wilson wrote in a tweet, as he and former colleagues and pals of Clayton took to social media Friday evening to supply remembrances.

“The Seahawks are heartbroken to be taught of the passing of John Clayton,” the team said in a statement. The Steelers called Clayton “a Pittsburgh media icon.”

“The variety of NFL execs and coaches that I’ve heard from have expressed an awesome theme of nice respect and a way of deep loss and shock,” stated Mortensen.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell honored Clayton as a “fantastic individual” who “earned my super respect and admiration as a journalist.”

“John Clayton, one of many first ‘Insiders,’ helped deliver followers nearer to the sport they beloved,” Goodell stated in an announcement. “For 5 a long time, he lined the league with limitless vitality and professionalism.”

Clayton spent over a decade on the Tacoma (Wash.) Information Tribune earlier than a greater than 20-year run at ESPN. Clayton additionally wrote for a number of retailers, together with the Washington Publish, lately after his lengthy stint at ESPN, and had been the sideline reporter for the Seahawks radio community for 5 seasons. He additionally contributed tales for KKFN-FM (104.three FM) in Denver since February of final yr.

“John was a pioneer as an NFL insider but additionally one of many kindest males you would ever work with,” stated Seth Markman, vp and government producer at ESPN. “He actually by no means stated no to a present that requested him to come back on — from 6 a.m. to midnight, for those who requested for the Professor, he was there for you. I am going to additionally personally bear in mind how he beloved and cared for his beloved spouse Pat as she has battled a number of sclerosis. We’ll all miss John enormously.”

Clayton acquired the occupation’s highest honor, now referred to as the Invoice Nunn Memorial Award, in 2007. The award is offered yearly by the Professional Soccer Writers of America in recognition of “lengthy and distinguished reporting within the discipline of professional soccer.”

“It is the best honor any author overlaying this sport can obtain,” Clayton stated on the time.

“The PFWA mourns the passing of John Clayton,” the group stated in an announcement. “John was the PFWA’s 19th president (1999-2000) and the group’s 2007 Invoice Nunn Jr. Award recipient. ‘The Professor’ was a buddy to so many in our enterprise. Our condolences to his spouse Pat, household, colleagues and his many pals.”

Clayton was additionally a longtime member of the Board of Selectors for the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame.

ESPN employed Clayton in 1995 as a jack-of-all-trades for its NFL protection. SportsCenter producers created a weekly section known as “4 Downs” pitting Clayton in opposition to NFL analyst and former quarterback Sean Salisbury. It grew to become must-see TV.

Salisbury mirrored on Clayton as a “phenomenal man” in a tweet.

Additionally memorable have been Clayton’s appearances on “That is SportsCenter” commercials for ESPN, which to today are among the many better of the favored segments. Clayton’s look included a spot the place he appeared as he would on SportsCenter, in a coat and tie, earlier than he tore each off to disclose a Slayer T-shirt, let down his lengthy hair, jumped on a mattress and shouted, “Hey ma, I am achieved with my section.”

His love for soccer by no means wavered from these early days.

“Till they plant me, I suppose,” he informed the Pittsburgh Publish Gazette in 2018, when requested how lengthy he would preserve overlaying the NFL. “I like these things. What I like about it’s there’s a lot extra stuff we did not have entry to years in the past and now we do — the wage info, NFL Sport Rewind the place you’ll be able to watch coaches tape. There’s a lot info and analytical stuff, it is phenomenal.”

Clayton is survived by his spouse, Pat, and sister, Amy.

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