John Clayton was one of the most well-connected reporters in the NFL. Clayton’s geeky look and dry sense of humor made him a favorite among those who follow football. Clayton sadly passed away at his home in Washington after a brief illness at the age of 67.
Clayton started his career in Pittsburgh after graduating from Duquesne University. John worked with the Pittsburgh Steelers through the late 70s and early 1980s. John Clayton first gained local notoriety when he reported on the Pittsburgh Steelers holding illegal practices. The Steelers have docked a third-round draft choice due to his reporting.
Clayton went on to Tacoma, Washington, where he was a sports reporter at The News Tribune. From there, television came calling. John Clayton worked at ESPN from 1995 until 2017.
Clayton famously made fun of his perceived nerdiness in an infamous “This is SportsCenter” commercial. John portrayed a secretly-mulleted metalhead who loved to rock out to hard music in his mom’s basement. In reality, he was soft-spoken, but John Clayton loved to have fun and had a great passion for his work.
Several members of the sporting press posted tributes to John Clayton after learning of his death. John was one of the NFL’s elite insiders during his run with ESPN. John also always stayed true to his roots, regularly checking in with Pittsburgh sports radio shows.
John Clayton is one of the true legends of professional football reporting. There may never be another one like him. Everyone here at Thirsty sends our condolences out to John’s friends, family, colleagues, and loved ones during this sad time.
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