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ESPN’s John Clayton Shares His Passion for Football, NFL

ESPN’s John Clayton joins Jeff Thurn on Thursday’s edition of Overtime. 

Thurn and Clayton discussed all things NFL today, and hear the full interview right here:

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Clayton tells Thurn and his listeners how he found his love for covering football and the NFL: 

“It really started when I was 17 years old because I was lucky enough between my junior and senior year of high school to work for a paper in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania. You know I grew up in Pittsburgh, and I was able to get a press pass my senior year cover the Steelers. I was there at all the home games, and for the ‘Immaculate Reception,’ in 1972. Then what ends up happening if your young guy, and there’s so many guys that have done a Graham Bensinger, that is doing a lot stuff now with big interviews. If you were fortunate to start in high school, you go ahead and meet people and they start to give you other opportunities. The next thing I got a press pass helping at the Pittsburgh Condor ABA basketball game. I was the statistician for that. Then I went to Duquesne University and all through college I had 25 jobs, but so much of it was going around and covering the Steelers. Always a football guy, and if you are from Pittsburgh, you’re a football guy. When I got hired at the Pittsburgh Press and was still doing a lot of Steelers stuff, but the great part is you cut your teeth in this business with one of the greatest, if not the greatest team you could ever cover and get to know football because they had teaching-type of coaches – Chuck Noll, Bud Carson, Woody Widenhofer, guys like that you can learn a lot of football from and translate that to being able to cover. I was fortunate enough to be able to cover this stuff because I was 17 years old.”

Besides the ‘Immaculate Reception,’ was there a moment or game that Clayton remembers: 

“Well you know here’s the weird thing about it because here I was 17-18-years old at the time, and right behind me was Joe Brown. This was in the playoff game with the ‘Immaculate Reception.’ I was in the auxiliary press box. I mean at 17, you’re not going to get in the main press box. So, I’m in the auxiliary press box and there were a lot of writers that were fans. And so Franco (Harris) makes the catch and is coming down toward the auxiliary press box and everybody goes, ah, and they are jumping up and down. They are cheering and stuff like that. I turn to Joe Brown from the league and said I got to see a reply on that. That’s an illegal catch, and apparently here’s this snotty nose, 112-pound, 17-year old making this remark. And he goes, ‘woah this guy is right down the line and is not favoring the team one way or the other because I am saying, ‘man this is illegal catch.’ Which it was. That was one. There are so many great games that I was able to cover with the catch in the Dallas-San Francisco game. That phenomenal. I’ve been to like 38 Super Bowls, or something like that. I’ve seen great games and contests. Seeing the Steelers game in 1976 was just flat out shutting everybody down, then they win the game in Baltimore, and lose the next week in Oakland because the Colts took out their top two running backs..and that was against a very good Raider team. I am so fortunate to cover so many great things in this league and still be able to do it.”

*Thurn is on ESPN 99.1 daily from 3 to 6 p.m. For comments and story ideas, email Sam at tastadsam@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @samtastad. Jeff is on Twitter @jtespn991.

(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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