John Clayton, 'The Professor' of NFL journalism, dies at 67


Longtime NFL reporter John Clayton has died at age 67, the Seattle Seahawks announced late on Friday, after what the team described as a brief illness.

The veteran journalist covered the Steelers for 20-plus years with the Pittsburgh Press and later the Seahawks with the Tacoma News.

He also had a long stint as a national reporter with ESPN beginning in the 1990s, where a generation of fans were first introduced to the bookish journalist who was nicknamed "The Professor."

Chris Mortensen, one of Clayton's longtime colleagues at ESPN, said Clayton passed away peacefully at a Seattle-area hospital with his wife and sister at his side.

“His wife Pat and sister Amy were at his side and communicated earlier he passed peacefully after a brief illness,” Mortensen tweeted. “We loved John. We are mourning his loss.”

Clayton was decorated for his life's work in covering the sport. He was awarded with what is now known as the Bill Nunn Memorial Award by the Professional Football Writers of America in 2007. The award is presented annually for long and distinguished reporting on football.

“The PFWA mourns the passing of John Clayton. John was the PFWA’s 19th president (1999-2000) and the organization’s 2007 Bill Nunn Jr. Award recipient,” the organization said in a statement. ”‘The Professor’ was a friend to so many in our business. Our condolences to his wife Pat, family, colleagues and his many friends.”

Despite his earnest approach to covering the league, Clayton was beloved for a sense of humor that seemed to belie his professorial demeanor. He famously appeared in a popular and outlandish SportsCenter commercial where he played a bedroom-dwelling heavy metal enthusiast still living with his mother.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today