National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement paying tribute to the late reporter John Clayton. The former ESPN insider passed away at the age of 67 on March 18.
Clayton’s broadcast career stretched from the 1990s to the 2010s. During that time, he became a fan favorite, with the nickname “the Professor.” Clayton was a fixture on ESPN, reporting primarily from Seattle. Though he appeared on many of their programs, his first was Four Downs. He co-hosted the show with former football player Sean Salisbury. Sadly, Clayton was laid off by ESPN in 2017, after which he hosted a podcast called SCHOOLED W/ The Professor.
“John Clayton, one of the first ‘Insiders,’ helped bring fans closer to the game they loved. For five decades, he covered the league with endless energy and professionalism,” said Goodell in a statement. “He earned my tremendous respect and admiration as a journalist but more importantly as a wonderful person, particularly as it relates to the love, care, and devotion to his wife Pat. We will miss John and send our deepest condolences to Pat and his sister Amy.”
Additionally, ESPN acknowledged the tragic loss to the sports community. ESPN Vice President Seth Markman said: “John was a pioneer as an NFL insider but also one of the kindest men you could ever work with. He literally never said no to a show that asked him to come on — from 6 a.m. to midnight, if you asked for the Professor, he was there for you. I’ll also personally remember how he loved and cared for his beloved wife Pat as she has battled multiple sclerosis. We will all miss John greatly.”
Others Pay Tribute to John Clayton
In addition to Roger Goodell, a number of NFL franchises and players paid tribute to John Clayton.
“We are very saddened to learn of the passing of John Clayton,” the Pittsburgh Steelers said in a tweet. “He was a Pittsburgh media icon who covered the Steelers for over a decade in the 1970s and 1980s. And he continued to follow and report on the team even when he moved on to become one of the most respected NFL national reporters. Our thoughts are with his wife, Pat, during this difficult time.”
The Seattle Seahawks also released a tribute to Clayton:
The Seahawks are heartbroken to learn of the passing of John Clayton after a battle with a brief illness at the age of 67. Nicknamed The Professor, John spent 23 years covering the Steelers,Seahawks and NFL as a beat reporter for The Pittsburgh Press and Tacoma News Tribune. In 1995 he was hired by ESPN as an NFL Insider. Most recently, Clayton was the host of The John Clayton Weekends show on Seattle Sports 710 and spent five seasons as a sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks Radio Network. In 2007,John won the prestigious Dick McCann Award, bestowed annually by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) for long and distinguished reporting on professional football. We send our deepest condolences to Pat and the Clayton family.Seattle Seahawks
“We will all miss your words and brilliance,” tweeted Russell Wilson, former quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.