John Clayton, whose list of contacts in the NFL was matched only by his attention to detail and dedication to his craft, died Friday in Washington after a brief illness, his family said.
He was 67.
John Clayton was known as “The Professor” and he started covering the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL, and later covered the Seattle Seahawks for many years before joining ESPN….
Clayton got a big push when he was a guest on Nanci Donnellan’s Fabulous Sports Babe Radio Show…The show was running hot in Seattle and then it made its way onto ESPN Radio…The Sports Babe got that 10am-2pm time slot and she got hot, as far as trendsetting radio hosts go, and John Clayton was her NFL expert guest, and he went big time, as The Sports Babe was going big time…Clayton became a regular guest on Nanci Donnellan’s show, and then Clayton went on to become the NFL expert on ESPN TV…
The Fabulous Sports Babe Radio Show ran locally in Greensboro on WETR 830AM radio…The Sports Babe Show got rolling strong in North Carolina by first airing on 850 AM radio, which was WKIX from Raleigh, and then KIX became WRBZ The Buzz, and The Babe, with John Clayton, was rolling there in Raleigh, and later she was also drawing an audience on WETR 830AM, Entertainment Radio for the Triad….
WETR had Steve Norris and some women named Wendy in the mornings from 6-10am, although the Wendy was not the same Wendy from Bill Flynn’s show on the old WMAG 99.5 FM….The Sports Babe, along with regular guest John Clayton, ran from 10am-2pm, the station ran parts of Dr. Joy Browne in the afternoons, and Chris Angel did Beach Music at night on 830AM WETR….
(Bruce Bullington, a former writer here at GreensboroSports.com, worked the board, and produced many of those radio shows at WETR.)
Nanci Donnellan, “The Fabulous Sports Babe”, with “The Professor” John Clayton were in Greensboro and the Triad, and it wasn’t that long ago….Maybe around 27 years ago, if memory serves me correctly….
RIP:John Clayton…He and The Fabulous Sports Babe were quite the team, back in the day….A true Blast from the Past the really Did Last….
More on John Clayton, from various sites….
When she was approached with the idea of jumping into the podcast world, the Fabulous Sports Babe did a cannonball into the deep end. Knowing that the NFL season was right around the corner, there was only one guy that was strong enough to be on her debut show: “The Professor” John Clayton of ESPN.
These two go back 25 years to when they worked together in Seattle and you can tell just be the way they talk to each other, the mutual respect they have for one another. They chat about the disarray in the 49ers camp, the Washington Redskins QB situation, and what makes “The Professor” tick.
Clayton began covering sports while still a student at Churchill Area High School. Starting with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 1972 training camp, he covered the team in twice-weekly dispatches in the St. Marys, Pennsylvania Daily Press. He later wrote for Steel City Sports, a weekly publication in Pittsburgh. In 1975, Steel City Sports changed into Score! Pittsburgh and Clayton was a staff writer, covering the Steelers. He also served as a stringer for a number of radio networks, including AP Radio, and covered games, providing the network with sound clips from locker room interviews after games involving Pittsburgh’s professional sports teams.
Clayton graduated from Duquesne University in 1976, and later worked for The Pittsburgh Press. He had done part-time work for the paper while attending college.
In May 1978, Clayton was sent to cover a Steelers mini-camp in place of the Press’s regular Steelers beat writer, Glenn Sheeley. While there he discovered and reported a rules violation which would cost the team a draft pick. The affair was dubbed “Shouldergate” by Clayton. Clayton became persona non grata for some time in his hometown for his role in the affair.
Clayton eventually worked his way up to become the Steelers beat writer at the Press, before leaving the paper in 1986. He moved across the country and began covering the Seattle Seahawks for The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington. It was at this time that he began appearing in NFL segments on Seattle sports radio station KJR (AM) on host Nanci Donnellan’s program “The Fabulous Sports Babe”. When Donnellan’s show was picked up by ESPN for national syndication, Clayton came along as an NFL correspondent.
In 1995, Clayton joined ESPN as a reporter and later added to his duties a weekly radio show during the NFL offseason. He hosted the show with former NFL quarterback Sean Salisbury; the show included “Four Downs,” a debate with Salisbury over current NFL issues. Their debates often became quite heated, with Salisbury referring to Clayton as the “Cryptkeeper” and “Mr. Peabody”, mocking his geeky and “eggheaded” appearance and voice, and Clayton responding by calling Salisbury “Mr. Backup” based on his limited playing time during his NFL career.
ESPN let John Clayton go in 2017…..