ESPN Pan-Out Offers Rare Insight into Secret Life of John Clayton
SOMEWHERE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC – Due to a camera malfunction that ESPN president John Skipper calls “an extremely regrettable incident,” longtime NFL reporter John Clayton has been revealed to be an actual living, breathing human being, ending years of fevered speculation.
For decades, ESPN viewers had openly wondered whether Clayton was in fact a flesh-and-blood man, or rather an ingenious digital creation, the culmination of a secret collaboration between Walt Disney Co. subsidiaries ESPN and Pixar. Clayton, who conducts all his reporting via remote satellite uplink in front of an unyielding blue background, has never been spotted by a member of the viewing public in real life and has repeatedly refused to release his birth certificate in a bid to silence doubters.
Ever since SportsCenter began airing all its broadcasts live in 2008, fans have been hoping for a slip-up that would finally reveal whether Clayton was a man, an animatronic robot, or something in between; indeed, some had even suggested that his likeness was the final, crowning achievement of Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets.
On Wednesday, seven minutes into the noon broadcast of SportsCenter with John Buccigross and Chris McKendry, ESPN viewers finally learned the answer to the question they had spent years parsing. While Buccigross (in ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. studio) and Clayton (via uplink) were discussing whether or not the allegations that New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson had put a bounty on the head of Brett Favre’s five-year-old nephew were true, a rare camera glitch allowed viewers a glimpse of the real John Clayton.
Completely naked except for the top third of a dress shirt, jacket, and tie, Clayton was shown lounging on the deck of a luxurious yacht that ESPN later confirmed was “the product of decades of selling cocaine to Mexican cartels.” On either side of him were scantily-clad models peeling grapes and fanning the correspondent’s nude torso.
While many had thought the unchanging blue background behind Clayton was the product of green-screen technology, the pan-out showed that it was actually a framed picture being held aloft behind him. In one particularly wide shot, on either side of Clayton eagle-eyed viewers could see large, nude photographs of ESPN president John Skipper and Disney CEO Bob Iger laying on the deck, finally settling the question of how such an unattractive, uncharismatic poindexter could possibly land and keep a job in TV.
Although some have called for Clayton’s resignation following Wednesday’s events, he says that he plans to remain with the network as an NFL reporter, adding cryptically, “so long as that S&M freak [Roger] Goodell is Commissioner.”