John Clayton's NFL Coverage Stressed Detail

'The Professor' covered the league for newspapers, radio, and ESPN
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2022 1:15 PM CDT
John Clayton's NFL Coverage Stressed Detail
John Clayton presents an award in 2017.   (Genna Martin/ via AP, File)

(Newser) – John Clayton, a longtime print and broadcast NFL reporter who was inducted into the writers' wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Friday. He was 67 and died after a brief illness, the Seattle Seahawks announced. Clayton had been a radio sideline reporter for the team for the past five years and hosted a radio show on a Seattle station, USA Today reports. "John was a pioneer as an NFL insider but also one of the kindest men you could ever work with,'' said an executive at ESPN, where Clayton worked for more than 20 years. Former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said he'll miss Clayton's "words and brilliance," per CNN.

Clayton was 17 when he became a professional sportswriter, covering the NFL for the Washington Post, ESPN, and other outlets, per the Post. He then covered the Steelers for the Pittsburgh Press, per Deadline, and the Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. In 1995, he was hired by ESPN, where he wrote and broadcast about football until leaving the network in 2017. Clayton's knowledge and deep coverage of the game brought him the nickname "the Professor," and he was on the Hall of Fame's selection committee. "We all learned something from 'The Professor' over the years and we will miss him dearly," an ESPN tweet says, per CBS News.

"John Clayton, one of the first 'Insiders,' helped bring fans closer to the game they loved," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "For five decades, he covered the league with endless energy and professionalism." A longtime colleague said Clayton had other nicknames at ESPN. "But 'the Professor' is one a lot of us preferred,” Chris Mortensen told viewers, "because he often reported about all things NFL with such details that anyone paying attention walked away a little more educated." (Read more obituary stories.)

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