John Clayton, an NFL reporter best known for his work on ESPN, has died at the age of 67

John Clayton, the veteran NFL reporter nicknamed the Professor known for his football analysis and concise game summaries for ESPN, died Friday in a hospital in Bellevue, Washington. Hey what 67.

His death was announced in a Seattle Seahawks statement, which did not specify the cause. He worked late in his career as a sideline journalist for the team’s radio network.

Mr. Clayton’s journalistic career spanned five decades, taking him from the pages of The Pittsburgh Press, where he covered the Steelers in the 1970s as a teenager, to the studios of ESPN, where he became a fixture.

Mr. Clayton, who wore rimless glasses and had a crisp idiom, was known for his substantive relationships rather than flashy, attention-grabbing on-air style.

“It brought impartiality, fairness, and a voice of reason to reporting at a time when the kind of thunderous debate shows and less substantial, more entertaining forms of programming were becoming more popular,” said Mike Sando, a senior writer for L ‘Atletico who has been friends with Mr. Clayton for decades.

Mr. Clayton often joked that he “didn’t look like a TV guy,” said Mr. Sando and told his friends that, unlike his more glamorous TV colleagues, he had kept the same haircut for more than 40 years.

Your looks, Mr. Clayton he told the New York Times in 2013“I mean, you are who you are.”

When he was 17, he landed a job with The Pittsburgh Press covering the Steelers when they were on their way to becoming a league dynasty.

He went to the locker room, interviewed players and coaches and then returned home, giving up the beer that his colleagues would later enjoy in the press box.

In 1978 he wrote to item revealing that the Steelers had violated NFL rules when their players used shoulder pads during training at the minicamp – a revelation he called Shouldergate and which resulted in the team losing a third-round draft pick.

Mr. Clayton left the press in 1986 for The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington, where he met his future wife, Pat, a bowling sports reporter.

At the News Tribune, he pioneered ways to cover the NFL, such as keeping spreadsheets that tracked each player’s salary after the league introduced pay caps in 1994; calling all 32 teams every Friday to find out who hadn’t participated in rehearsals; and contact each stadium on game days to find out who the inactive players would be.

“John pioneered the granular way the championship is covered today,” said Mr. Sando.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Clayton leaves behind a sister, Amy.

John Clayton was born on May 11, 1954 in Braddock, Pennsylvania, about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. His obsession with football began when he was a child and his mother took him to Steelers games.

“Of course you can see my body, you can see that I didn’t have the ability to compete on the football field”, he told USA Football in 2013. “It just wasn’t there. But I loved the game so much. “

He embarked on his journalistic career after graduating from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in 1976.

In 1995 he joined ESPN, where he appeared on weekly radio shows and hosted the “Four Downs” segment with Sean Salisbury, a former NFL quarterback.

But his television stardom didn’t solidify until his appearance in what would become a memorable “This is ‘SportsCenter’” commercial.

In the announcement, an anchor says, “It’s hard to find a more dedicated expert than John Clayton. He is the consummate professional. “

The scene shows Mr. Clayton delivering his on-air analysis in a suit and tie and cutting away to reveal that he is only wearing the top of both. He takes off his clothes to reveal that he is wearing a sleeveless shirt bearing the name of the thrash metal band Slayer.

Then she stands up in a poster room and lets go of a hidden ponytail.

Jump on a bed screaming, “Hey mom! I’m done with my segment! ”She Then she eats noodles from a take-out container.

Although the announcement was a success, Mr. Clayton was willing to do so, said Dave Pearson, the Seattle Seahawks’ chief of communications.

Mr. Clayton told Mr. Pearson and Mr. Sando that he built his reputation on serious relationships and didn’t want to tarnish this by appearing in a silly ad.

“Will they laugh at me?” Mr. Sando recalled that Mr. Clayton asked.

But after it aired, Mr. Sando said, it gave Mr. Clayton “a new level of stardom that was totally unexpected”, and he really appreciated it,

Mr. Clayton’s career at ESPN ended in 2017 when he was one of many people fired from the network, second Sports news.

He joined Seattle Sports 710 radio station and worked for five seasons as a sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks Radio Network. This month, Mr. Clayton reported on quarterback Russell Wilson’s expectations trade in Denver. (The exchange was completed last week.)

When requested by The Pittsburgh Post Gazette in 2018 how long he had planned to work, Mr. Clayton replied, “Until they schedule me, I guess. I love this stuff. “

Ed Bouchette, a former sports reporter for The Post-Gazette who is now a senior writer at The Athletic, said Mr. Clayton had been even more devoted to his wife, who has multiple sclerosis. He had an elevator built for her in their home and took her to the Super Bowl games that he followed, Mr. Bouchette said.

“She was in a wheelchair and John would have taken her anywhere,” she said. “It was a bit touching, I thought.”

In 2007 he received the Bill Nunn Commemorative Awardone of the highest awards for football journalists.