John Clayton, who covered the Seahawks for nine years before joining ESPN in 1995, made an appearance on Seattle's ESPN radio affiliate Wednesday, and was asked about the 30 for 30 documentary "Brian and the Boz," which had debuted on ESPN the night before. He revealed that once upon a time, young John was a beat writer you did not want to cross.
Brian Bosworth, if you're not familiar, was one of the best college football players in the 1980s—a two-time winner of the Dick Butkus Award (for the nation's top linebacker) and a two-time All-American. Bosworth's college career, though, was surrounded by controversy. He was banned from college football for using steroids, and on the sideline at the 1987 Orange Bowl he wore an anti-NCAA T-shirt that said "National Communists Against Athletes." The Seahawks selected Bosworth in the 1987 supplemental draft and awarded him what was then the largest-ever rookie contract. He was forced to retire from the NFL in 1989 due to a shoulder injury, and is now known as one of the biggest busts in NFL history.
But back to Clayton. The hosts asked Clayton about his feelings as a reporter covering Bosworth. Here's what Clayton had to say (skip to the 16:40 mark):
Q: What are your memories of covering [Brian Bosworth], because you were one of the beat reporters that was here. Was it a frustrating process; did you enjoy sort of the phenomenon that was Boz?
Clayton: It was frustrating. I mean, it was one where you got an audience with the Boz, you didn't get a real chance—fortunately Boz would occasionally call me over and ask me questions, and then when I would turn around and ask him some he would blow me off on that stuff. You always had to worry on Friday, "OK, where's the haircut coming from, what kind of a different cut is it going to be?" There was all kinds of crazy stuff.
Clare Farnsworth and I both came up with the same idea after the 24 games that he played, that once he got hurt, it was an injury that Ron Wolfley, the fullback on the Arizona Cardinals made on him on a hit, on a special teams play I believe, we ended up sending a gift to Ron Wolfley. *laughs*
Q: You gave him a gift for ending the Boz's career?
Clayton: Yeah, pretty much, yeah.
Clayton: I can't remember exactly what we sent him, but we sent him something because we felt he earned it. I don't know, Dave. I know you enjoyed the [Bosworth] experience because that was such a good linebacking core with Tony Woods and [Sam] Merriman and the group, but Boz was just so different.
First, why the fuck did John Clayton care what Brian Bosworth's hair looked like? John Clayton!
Second, maybe he was annoyed that Bosworth would blow him off. Maybe he hated Bosworth as a person. But what kind of asshole, let alone a reporter, gives somebody a present for ENDING ANOTHER PERSON'S CAREER? Bosworth's doctor said of his shoulder, "Brian was a twenty-five-year-old with the shoulders of a sixty-year-old," and that's something he cheered, because he felt it made his job a little easier?
When ESPN laid off hundreds of employees as a cost-cutting measure, was Clayton running around Bristol handing out scented candles to corporate executives? If Bill Belichick—who's made a career of ignoring questions from reporters—drops dead from a stroke, will John Clayton send a gift to the blood clot?
Seriously, who does that?