For quite a while now, ESPN has been busy making itself look about as different from 2012 ESPN as possible, with a pretty constant rollover in terms of show cancellations, on-screen analysts and behind-the-scenes talent. And now another informational era has come to and end, as the network has gotten rid of one of its most enjoyable longtime analysts, John Clayton. WTF, ESPN?
John Clayton has been a big part of ESPN's analytics and commentary for 23 years now, making him as recognizable and important as just about anyone else in the network's ranks. And at this point, there doesn't seem to be any big and apparent reasons for Clayton's ousting, according to Sporting News, beyond the general concept of ESPN currently putting its employee base through a wringer of layoffs. And if there's anything that has been made abundantly clear throughout all the shake-ups, both those that ESPN caused and otherwise, it's that no one's job is guaranteed to last forever. I'm sure Clayton would have a pretty good stat to bring up about it.
Before he even hit his 20s, John Clayton was making a name for himself in sports news, first covering the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp in 1972. He stuck with team coverage for a few years, working with different Pittsburgh-set publications, as well as radio shows, and it was in the mid-1980s that Clayton moved out to Washington to cover the Seattle Seahawks. It's at this point when he signed on for the radio show The Fabulous Sports Babe, which was later acquired by ESPN, thus giving Clayton his biggest break yet.
Since 1995, John Clayton had been a master of football details for ESPN as an NFL correspondent/analyst. While he's known for a ton of things, he's perhaps most notable for a pair of projects. One was the debate show Four Downs, in which he had often heated verbal sparring matches with the former NFL quarterback Sean Salisbury (who was memorably fired for taking pictures of his genitals and showing them to people). The other is for the commercial seen below, widely thought of to be one of ESPN's very best.
It was just over a month ago when the network quite publicly got rid of somewhere around 100 employees, from big names like Ed Werder and Trent Dilfer to dozens of writers and columnists writing the words people read every day. With everything that's happening with Mike & Mike, we likely won't have to wait much longer to hear about more ESPN employees leaving the network.