When asked in 2018 by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about how long he will cover the NFL, Clayton had the following response:
“Until they plant me, I guess. I love this stuff. What I love about it is there’s so much more stuff we didn’t have access to years ago and now we do — the salary information, NFL Game Rewind where you can watch coaches tape. There’s so much information and analytical stuff, it’s phenomenal.
“That energizes me. I feel like a student still learning because you pick up all this stuff. I get excited about the little things. I have a data base that keeps track of every salary, the height and weight of all the players in the league. I put together a program on a worksheet for the top 51 players so I have an up to the minute salary cap sheet of every team in the league.”
— Jeff Muzzy (@jeffmu) March 19, 2022
Clayton joined ESPN as a reporter in 1995 and he also hosted a weekly radio show called “Four Downs” with former NFL QB Sean Salisbury.
He worked for ESPN for 22 years before eventually being let go on May 31, 2017.
Chris Mortenson just tweeted that Clayton “passed away today at a Seattle area hospital. His wife Pat and sister Amy were at his side and communicated earlier he passed peacefully after a brief illness. We loved John. We are mourning his loss. Pat has asked the @ to release further information.”
Here is the tweet from the Seahawks.
Rest In Peace, The Professor. pic.twitter.com/xFGdTYstnT
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) March 19, 2022
Here is what some of Clayton’s friends and colleagues had to say following the heartbreaking news:
“John Clayton will be remembered in so many ways, from how he looked after his wife Pat, to the mark he made in reporting, to the standard he set. He dedicated his life to his wife and to football. He was a pioneer, a caretaker, a Hall of Famer and a slayer, in every sense.” – Adam Schefter
“My friend of 22 years John Clayton died. He was one of those colleagues who was not only always eager to help you, but went above and beyond to help. He took his work seriously, with all his files and spreadsheets, but not himself. RIP to a gentleman and Hall of Famer.” –Seth Wickersham
“His spreadsheets and files were legendary. Always anticipated the yearly call I got from him seeking ages and birth dates of players he couldn’t find … also because it was an excuse to chat with John for a while. Just a legend.” – Michael Rothstein
“I will never forget John Clayton’s work ethic. When Blackberries and mobile phones became tools of the profession, John dominated because of the way he lived and breathed the NFL, which he so loved. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to know him and watch him work. RIP” –Darren Rovell
“I’m heartbroken to hear the news of my dear friend John Clayton’s passing. He was so kind and gracious with his time I will forever be grateful. I pray for peace that surpasses understanding for his wife Patricia and his friends and family. RIP” – Mark Schlereth
“That shows who he was as a person – never too big for anyone, always willing to share advice, and if it was about football, he was ready to listen. I was already a fan of ESPN John Clayton before the meeting. I became a bigger fan of John Clayton the person after that.” -Matt Cannata
“I’m so saddened by the news of John Clayton’s passing. He was my friend and mentor. He was brilliant, kind and thoughtful. My heart also goes out to his wife Pat. She is a brilliant light of life and meant absolutely everything to John. I just can’t believe this.” –Jesse Jones
“Sweet man with an even sweeter soul. Always had a lovely way of approaching you to say hello. May the great ‘I am’ welcome you warmly at the pearly gates and comfort your family with His rod and staff.” -Josina Anderson
RIP John Clayton. This video is goated. https://t.co/LajipoNqIy
— Jason Aponte (@JasonAponte2103) March 19, 2022