November 30, 2023


Inspired by sport

John Clayton, Veteran N.F.L. Reporter Who Worked at ESPN, Dies at 67

John Clayton, the veteran N.F.L. reporter who was nicknamed the Professor and who was mentioned for his specific insights about teams, his football analysis and his concise game recaps for ESPN, died on Friday at a healthcare facility in Bellevue, Clean. He was 67.

He died “after a fight with a quick sickness,” according to a statement from the Seattle Seahawks, who verified his death. He worked in the last aspect of his profession as a sideline reporter for the team’s radio network.

Mr. Clayton’s journalism occupation spanned 5 a long time, using him from the print web pages of The Pittsburgh Press, in which he included the Steelers in the 1970s as a teen, to the studios of ESPN, where he grew to become a fixture on the network’s shows and an icon of N.F.L. reporting.

Mr. Clayton, who sported rimless glasses and who experienced a crisp delivery, was acknowledged for his substantive reporting relatively than any flashy, attention-receiving model during his on-air appearances.

“He introduced an even-handedness and a fairness and a voice of cause to reviews at a time when the form of bombastic discussion exhibits and a lot less substantive, more entertaining varieties of programming had been starting to be much more common,” explained Mike Sando, a senior author for The Athletic who was friends with Mr. Clayton for decades.

Mr. Clayton usually joked that he “didn’t look like a Tv dude,” Mr. Sando explained, and informed his buddies that, in distinction to his a lot more dashing television colleagues, he had saved the exact haircut for much more than 40 years.

Of his search, Mr. Clayton told The New York Times in 2013, “I imply, you are what you are.”

In the course of the many years, his love for the sport and for reporting was clear, his colleagues said. When he was 17, he acquired a career with The Pittsburgh Push covering the Steelers when they were being on the precipice of getting a championship dynasty in the 1970s.

He would go into the locker home, job interview players and coaches and then return property, forgoing the beer that his colleagues would enjoy afterward in the press box.

In 1978, he wrote an posting about the Steelers’ violating N.F.L. policies when their gamers made use of shoulder pads throughout a minicamp exercise — a revelation that he known as Shouldergate and which resulted in the team’s dropping a 3rd-spherical draft decide.

Mr. Clayton still left The Push in 1986 for The News Tribune in Tacoma, Clean., exactly where he fulfilled his spouse, Pat, a sporting activities reporter who covered bowling.

At The Information Tribune, he pioneered strategies of masking the N.F.L., these kinds of as preserving spreadsheets that tracked each player’s income soon after the league released income caps in 1994 calling all 32 groups just about every Friday to find out who experienced not attended practice and calling each and every stadium on recreation days to find out who the inactive players would be.

“John pioneered the granular way in which the league is coated right now,” Mr. Sando reported.

In addition to his spouse, Mr. Clayton is survived by his sister, Amy.

His obsession with soccer started as a boy or girl. John Clayton was born on May perhaps 11, 1954, in Braddock, Pa., about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. His mom took him to Steelers game titles, a pastime that only intensified his adoration for the activity.

“Of study course you can see my physique — you can see I didn’t have the skill to contend on the football area,” he told United states of america Soccer in 2013. “It just wasn’t there. But I cherished the game so a great deal.”

He graduated from Duquesne College in Pittsburgh in 1976 and embarked on his journalism job.

In 1995, he joined ESPN. There, Mr. Clayton’s reporting prominence grew as he starred in weekly radio shows and hosted the “Four Downs” segment with Sean Salisbury, a previous N.F.L. quarterback.

But his tv stardom was not solidified till his overall look in what would become a unforgettable “This is ‘SportsCenter’” commercial.

In the advertisement for ESPN, an anchor states: “It’s challenging to locate an professional a lot more devoted than John Clayton. He’s the consummate professional.”

The scene reveals Mr. Clayton offering his analysis on the air in a accommodate jacket and a tie and cuts absent to expose that he is putting on just the upper parts of equally. He pulls the garments off to expose that he’s sporting a sleeveless T-shirt with the name of the thrash metal band Slayer.

Then, he stands up in his space, which is plastered with posters, and allows free a concealed ponytail.

He jumps on a bed, yelling: “Hey, mom! I’m carried out with my section!” He then eats noodles from a takeout container.

The ad was a achievement. Mr. Clayton, having said that, experienced been hesitant to do the professional, explained Dave Pearson, the chief communications officer for the Seattle Seahawks.

Mr. Clayton told Mr. Pearson and Mr. Sando that he had crafted his reputation on significant reporting and did not want to tarnish that by appearing in a foolish ad.

“Are they going to giggle at me?” Mr. Sando recalled Mr. Clayton inquiring.

Soon after the advertisement aired, even so, it gave Mr. Clayton “a new degree of celebrity that was thoroughly unforeseen,” and he cherished that, Mr. Sando stated.

Mr. Clayton’s vocation at ESPN finished in 2017 when he was a person of several employees who were being laid off by the network, according to The Sporting Information.

He joined the radio station Seattle Sports activities 710 and labored for 5 seasons as a sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks Radio Community. This thirty day period, Mr. Clayton was reporting on Russell Wilson’s expected trade to Denver.

When questioned by The Pittsburgh Put up-Gazette in 2018 how extended he planned to perform, Mr. Clayton replied: “Until they plant me, I guess. I like this stuff.”

Ed Bouchette, a former sporting activities reporter for The Submit-Gazette who is now a senior writer with The Athletic, mentioned Mr. Clayton experienced been even more devoted to his spouse, who has multiple sclerosis. He had an elevator constructed for her in their household and took her to Tremendous Bowl games that he coated, Mr. Bouchette stated.

“She was in a wheelchair, and John would acquire her all over in all places,” he said. “It was variety of touching, I considered.”

In 2007, he acquired the Invoice Nunn Memorial Award, 1 of the highest honors for soccer reporters.