The city of Seattle lost a sports media icon shortly before the NFL draft, so the Seattle Seahawks honored the man known as “The Professor” with a thoughtful gesture during the three-day event.
The Seahawks paid tribute to John Clayton, the former ESPN analyst who died March 18 at 67, by leaving open a seat for him in the team’s draft “war room.”
Besides his 22 years at ESPN, Clayton covered the Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune and worked for Seattle Sports 710 AM during a career in sports media that spanned parts of five decades. He had lived in the Seattle area since 1986, according to The Seattle Times.
Given the Professor’s impact on sports coverage in Seattle, honoring Clayton during the biggest event of the NFL offseason seemed a fitting tribute to him.
Seahawks, Others Paid Tribute to Clayton
After his death in March, the Seahawks were among many in the sports world who offered their condolences and paid 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,” the Seahawks tweeted in an official statement. “We send our deepest condolences to Pat and the Clayton family.”
Former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also took to Twitter, saying, “We will all miss your words and brilliance @JohnClaytonNFL #RIPJohnClayton.”
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“John was a pioneer as an NFL insider but also one of the kindest men you could ever work with,” ESPN vice president and executive producer Seth Markman told ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold. “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.”
Remembering Clayton’s Iconic SportsCenter Commercial
Even casual fans might remember Clayton for his iconic “This is SportsCenter” commercial. In the ad, Clayton is depicted as living with his mother, rocking a ponytail and a cutoff Slayer t-shirt.
“Hey, ma! I’m done with my segment!” is still one of the most iconic SportsCenter commercials ever created.
The commercial led to a lively discussion about whether or not The Professor actually sports a ponytail. The New York Times even tried to verify the ponytail’s existence during a 2013 interview with Clayton.
“ESPN has this thing called Glowpoint,” Clayton said in the story when asked whether the ponytail was real. “It’s a camera that’s in my house so that I don’t have to go down to a studio and the company doesn’t have to pay for the satellite. When you see me on camera, it’s the same angle all the time. When Dan Patrick left the network, he started the rumor that I have a ponytail that you can’t see. Obviously I don’t have enough hair on the top of my head to make a ponytail. But if you go on Twitter, it’s a constant question: Do you have a ponytail?”