John Clayton: Seattle Treasure
By Lee Vowell
12s are lucky to be able to have John Clayton in their midst
Let me be frank. I think John Clayton is awesome. Clayton has the career that almost any writer wants to have. Especially a writer of my modicum of talent. In fact, Clayton may be the human being I want to be.
Clayton was let go by ESPN after 23 years years as a senior NFL writer. ESPN is worse off for not having Clayton in their flock. Much worse. For us 12s, however, Clayton will continue to do his show on 710 ESPN Seattle from 10 am to 12 pm every weekday. ESPN made a bad decision. 12s do not have to suffer.
Most of us schlubs pretend to be important writers spouting important topics. Mostly, we regurgitate ideas we have read or heard. We are sheep and we want to get our name known. Clayton has never done this.
John Clayton started covering sports while he was in high school in Pennsylvania. He then got to write about the Pittsburgh Steelers in the mid-1970s for the Pittsburgh Press. Was Clayton lucky to start his career reporting on one of the greatest teams in NFL history? Probably. Was the team also lucky to have someone as talented as Clayton writing about them? Yes.
Tacoma News Tribune = Geniuses?
Clayton moved to the Tacoma News Tribune covering the Seahawks from 1986 to 1998. Besides Clayton, let me just say how fortunate we Seahawks fans have been to have a lineage of great writers at the Tacoma paper. Clayton begat Dave Boling who begat Gregg Bell. While all those begats are not really true per lineage, it feels that way.
(As an aside, I have gotten to speak with Bell several times and had him on Seahawks podcasts we do. He is a great writer as well. Whomever makes the hiring decisions in Tacoma for sports writers is a genius.)
To me, John Clayton separates himself by telling the facts and his opinions in his clear and concise and non-judgmental way. He would never say this, but ESPN is now full of yellers. Stephen A. Smith has become louder because I think the brass has asked him to be. To my point, Smith is a good writer and understands what he is saying. Also, I think ESPN does Smith a disservice by asking Smith to be the way he has to be. Clayton is calm and quieter but more correct and balanced. Correct and balanced? What? That’s boring, right? But we as a human race need that. We should need to want that.
Thank goodness for John Clayton for how he does what he does. I thank goodness for Clayton still being able to be a part of Seattle culture. Clayton may not be a natural-born 12, but we 12s are fortunate to hear him every day. He is the calm in a storm of sports news. Heck, he is balance in an unbalanced world. He is a Hall of Fame writer (NFL in 2007) and a Hall of Fame human.
Thanks, John, it is a treasure to have you in Seattle and to be able to listen to you as a 12.