We all know that over the lifetime of an NFL team, not every year is a Super Bowl year. So what makes a Super Bowl team? No one knows better than Gil Brandt.
As chief talent scout for the Dallas Cowboys since the team's inception in 1960 until 1988, he is responsible for many of the scouting techniques considered standard practice today. On this week's SCHOOLED, Gil talks to The Professor about the Seahawks potentially losing Richard Sherman, why this year's draft is the most unusual Gil's ever seen, and much more.
This week, citing player safety, the NFL created a rule banning defensive players from jumping over the line during FGs and extra points. Why eliminate such an exciting play? Indianapolis Colts long snapper Matt Overton is at the literal center of this recent change, and on this week's SCHOOLED he talks to The Professor about feeling conflicted about the new rule, the mechanics of long snapping, and more about this unique position.
The man some call the best Defensive Tackle to ever play the game joins us this week on SCHOOLED to talk about playing for the Steelers in the 70s, and encouraging a young high school sports reporter named John Clayton.
John Clayton, our beloved Professor, began his Hall of Fame career as a 17 yr-old boy in the locker room of the Pittsburgh Steelers. A team of legends who would go on to win 4 Super Bowls in 6 years.
Check out Joe's book "'Mean' Joe Green: Built by Football" anywhere books are sold.
Like The Professor, Boston Herald writer Ron Borges has been covering the NFL since the 1970s. Both men are also active voting members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
On this week's SCHOOLED: Why T.O. didn't make it , the responsibility of voting people into the Hall, why it's harder for older players to get in, the disparity between offensive & defensive players, and why it ain't always about the numbers.
You can call David Vobora "Mr. Irrelevant," the title bestowed each year to the very last pick in the NFL Draft, just don't call him "cheater." Vobora is one of many players who have gotten in trouble with the league for taking what they were told were acceptable supplements, only to find unlisted banned ingredients in their PED tests.
This week on SCHOOLED, The Professor talks to the former linebacker about suing the company that produced the supplement (he won a $5.4M judgement), NFL procedure for when a player decides to take supplements (there's a dedicated hotline), what it feels like when fans turn on you after you've done nothing wrong, and his non-profit gym dedicated to training athletes and military servicepeople who have sustained life-altering injuries. Learn more at teamatf.org.
Super Bowl-winning Offensive Guard and broadcast hopeful Willie Colon joins The Professor this week on SCHOOLED to talk about some of the challenges he and other players face when they're no longer able to play the game they love.
Since the 2011 CBA, why is it harder to play longer in the NFL? Has that created a lack of role models for younger players? What about successful players tapping out early to focus on new career paths? And when do you know it's time to go?
Few journalists are closer to the latest Super Bowl champs than longtime New England Patriots reporter ESPN's Mike Reiss. His precious Pats are now tied for the 2nd-most NFL championships in history (behind Clayton's hometown Steelers).
So what is it about this team? How have they done so well in the era of salary caps? What is different about the culture in Foxboro? Is Brady simply the best QB ever? What does Bill Belichick do that other coaches don't?
The Professor has all the answers on this week's episode of SCHOOLED.
Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly played all of his 11 years in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills. Between 1991-1994, they played a record 4 consecutive Super Bowls, and although they lost each time, his revolutionary no-huddle "K-Gun" offense led to one of the league's greatest offensive juggernauts.
On this week's SCHOOLED, The Professor talks to his old pal Jim about his unusual path to the NFL (via the now defunct USFL), how choosing beer over a car for his MVP prize was a bad deal for the beer company, what made the 1983 NFL draft class - where Kelly was picked in the first round - so legendary, and why Joe Paterno was no fan of Clayton's.
Mike Leach, head coach of the Div 1 Washington State Cougars, has taken a unique path to where he is today. Lawyer, actor, and author were all on his resume before he became coach, but one thing is conspicuously absent: football player.
On this week's SCHOOLED, The Professor talks to Leach about the advantages to thinking outside the traditional playbook, Coach's role in creating the "Air Raid Offense," how the availability of tape has changed the game, and more!
With three generations of NFL players, the Matthews clan have played an unprecedented 832 games, been selected to 24 Pro Bowls, eight All-Pros, won a Super Bowl, and have a member in the NFL Hall of Fame.
That Hall of Famer, Bruce, joins our own Canton-ite John "The Professor" Clayton on this week's SCHOOLED. The uncle of Clay Matthews III and father of Jake Matthews (who will directly face off in the NFC championship game this Sunday), Bruce speaks candidly about planning his life around his kids' football experience, the toughest part about being in a family like his, and who will do better this weekend - Clay or Jake?
In his 40+ years of covering the NFL, The Professor calls Kenny Easley "one of the greatest football players I can remember." Considered one of football's great "what ifs," Kenny had to retire early due to kidney disease. Today, he is weeks away from being voted on for entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On this week's Schooled, Kenny & Clayton discuss the moment Ken got his bad news, whether or not safeties are under-appreciated in the NFL, the inside scoop on Hall of Fame voting, and Kenny's present and future living with kidney disease.
Arguably the most successful agent in the history of the NFL, and the real-life inspiration for Tom Cruise's character in "Jerry Maguire," Leigh Steinberg joins The Professor on SCHOOLED to discuss the role agents play in professional sports.
NFL Hall of Famer, successful post-football businessman, and one of the greatest Safeties to ever play the game, Ronnie Lott joins The Professor to discuss his involvement in the movement to keep the Oakland Raiders from relocating to Las Vegas. And in "Ask The Professor," Clayton explains whether or not he thinks hometown crowds matter to the NFL.
Have a question for The Professor? Tweet @ClaytonESPN and use #ClaytonSchooled for a chance to get your answer on the podcast.
After the recent firing of Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher, former coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve "Mooch" Mariucci joins The Professor on this week's SCHOOLED. The guys discuss: The NFL makes 6-7 coaching changes per year; is it harder to be a head coach today? Also - the differences between college & the NFL. How offensive strategy has evolved, and how defense is keeping up. The state of the West Coast Offense. And more!
Tommie Campbell was a sure thing. He was a first-team All State wide receiver and safety with Olympic calibre track stats (the 3rd fastest high-schooler in the US), and the NFL had their eyes on him. But he blew it. He began to cut classes, lose focus, and was eventually kicked out of two different colleges before getting a job as a janitor in the Pittsburgh airport for $8/hr.
How times have changed. This week on SCHOOLED, The Professor talks to Tommie about what it took to turn his life around - eventually getting drafted in the 7th round by the Tennessee Titans in 2011, and playing today as a champion in the CFL (which Tommie says is harder than the NFL).
Lawyer Milloy is a four-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time All-Pro, and a Super Bowl champion who over 15 seasons as a safety in the NFL played under two of the greatest coaches in the game: Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll.
On this week's SCHOOLED, The Professor talks to Milloy about playing under two of the best and most different coaches in NFL history, and answers a listener's question about who will be remembered as the all-time best.
From being drafted into "The Harvard Business School for Young Quarterbacks" at Green Bay (coaches Ron Wolf, Mike Holmgren, Andy Reid, and QB Brett Favre) to his 6 playoff appearances and a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks to Indianapolis where his 4-0 record as starter at the age of 40 made him the first quarterback in NFL history to do so, Matt Hasselbeck has had a very impressive career. He talks with The Professor on this week's SCHOOLED.
Pro Football Focus' Editor-in-Chief Jeff Dooley chats with The Professor about their favorite topic: NFL stats, data, and analytics.
On this week's SCHOOLED, we get into the nuts and bolts about the mountain of data that's out there, how it's collected & analyzed, and what decisions are made based on all this information. From teams' game plans and draft strategies, to fantasy teams and friendly wagers, football has joined the moneyball age, and no one knows more about that than John Clayton & Jeff Dooley.
The Professor welcomes back Former VP of Officiating in the NFL and current Rules Analyst at FOX Sports Mike Pereira to SCHOOLED.
A big discussion is this week's MNF game between Seattle and Buffalo, specifically the call against Richard Sherman. Also on the show - how tough it is to be an official, instant replay and its implications, excessive celebration and unsportsmanlike conduct, Mike's solution for quality officials, and how if the NFL increases official's commitment to full time, you're gonna lose a few good refs.
The man John Madden called the best left tackle in the NFL, Hall of Famer and carreer-long Seattle Seahawk Walter Jones, changed football. This week on SCHOOLED, The Professor tells us how, and what that means for building an offensive line today. The guys focus in on their beloved Seahawks as an example. We also get the scoop on Clayton's "Theory of 150."
Have a question for The Professor? Tweet @ClaytonESPN using #ClaytonSchooled and you could get your answer on the podcast!
The NFL's top executive for the health and safety of players, Jeff Miller, was the first league representative to admit a link between football and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
This week on SCHOOLED, The Professor discusses how concussions were (not) handled back in the day, walks us through modern concussion procedures, and Miller explains how biomechanical engineering is going to revolutionize the helmets of the future.
And who knew Clayton spoke German?
Kevin Mawae played for 16 years in the NFL, was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, served as President of the NFL Players Association, and will be - if The Professor has anything to do with it - a future Hall of Fame Center.
On this week's SCHOOLED, Clayton digs deep into the great example Mawae is for players. He was the whole package: talented, hard-working, and smart! As President of the Player's Association, he negotiated the most recent collective bargaining agreement against multi-billionaire owners to better ensure the safety and well-being of NFL players.
Have a question for The Professor? Tweet him at @ClaytonESPN, use #ClaytonSchooled, and you could get your answer on the show.
Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Charles Haley is the only player in NFL history to win 5 Super Bowls. Yet he was traded in his prime (twice!) because he had become so difficult for players and coaches - even the media. He was, in his words, "an a--hole."
In this week's SCHOOLED, Haley talks with The Professor about confronting mental illness, overcoming his demons, and what advice he gives young players struggling with similar issues. For the whole story, read Haley's fantastic new book "Fear No Evil."
Drew Bledsoe was the 1st overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft by the then-flailing New England Patriots. With Bledsoe at QB, the Pats reached the playoffs 6 times, and made it to the Super Bowl after 8 seasons of no postseason play. But after a nearly fatal injury in 2001, he was replaced by a young upstart named Tom Brady, and, even after being medically cleared, never took the field for N.E. again.
This week, The Professor talks to Drew about being replaced (and how common that is for NFL players), why playing QB for the Cowboys is like pitching for the Yankees, and his new life as a Northwest winemaker.
Want to "Ask The Professor?" Tweet your NFL questions to @ClaytonESPN using #ClaytonSchooled, and you could get your answer on SCHOOLED.
Are you ready for some old-school football?! This week's legendary guest is one of only 2 people to win an NFL title as a player, an assistant coach, and a head coach: Hall of Famer Mike Ditka. He & Clayton talk about sharing humble beginnings in neighboring Pennsylvania steel towns, Coach's favorite NFL moment, building the greatest defense in football, and how the game has changed since Ditka was drafted over 50 years ago. Also, who didn't want to participate in "The Super Bowl Shuffle?" That and more on this week's SCHOOLED!