Catching up with Mark Clayton

Former Oklahoma wide receiver Mark Clayton talks to OUInsider.com about his charity work, recent trip to New Orleans, first season in the NFL and how several former Sooners are doing in Baltimore. Clayton is the Sooners' all-time leading in career receiving yards (3,241) and touchdowns (31).

Former Sooner All-American Mark Clayton finished his career at OU as one of the greatest receivers ever, catching 221 passes for 3,241 yards and 31 touchdowns at an amazing 14.7 yards per catch.

A year ago, in his rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens, Clayton fought through injuries early in the season and finished in a strong fashion catching 44 passes for 471 yards and two touchdowns.

But while Clayton is a great football player, the best thing about him has always been his great personality, his friendly smile and willingness to help anybody that he can, as he and his mother have started a foundation that recently fed 800 people in New Orleans.

Clayton is enjoying a few days or R&R before the start of his second season in the NFL, but he recently slowed down long enough to talk to OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill!

JH: You recently put on a two-hour football camp for youngsters who are 11-years old and younger for those that bid for your gift to the Red Tie Banquet, which every year is put on by Mr. Jackie Cooper to benefit the care for Aids patients. You appear to care about this banquet a lot and you always give your time to the banquet. Please talk about your involvement in the banquet?

MC: "There is was one young lady out there, I would say about 10 or so, She was amazing. I think she felt she had something to prove considering we were playing football and she let all the guys know that she could get it done. She was even running double routes and putting it on the boys. I think the boys underestimated her, but she was always running by them out there."

JH: It was great to see you having so much fun with the kids, but how are things going with Mark Clayton?

MC: "Man, I'm blessed, amazingly blessed. God has tremendously blessed me and given me the experience to be joyful. He has shown me how to enjoy my time with the kids and I get more of a kick out of it than they do. I really enjoy giving them this clinic and hanging out with them."

JH: How many of these camps do you do a year or a summer?

MC: "This is the first time I am doing it through Mr. Cooper (Jackie Cooper BMW) and the Red Tie Foundation. Next year I definitley plan on being a part of it again. Any time that I can go and be a part of somebody else's (life) it is great. I just started the Mark Clayton Foundation and we are just starting to get our ball rolling. As soon as the opportunity presents itself, I am all about going and helping out."

JH: What do you hope to accomplish with your foundation, and how can people get involved with it?

MC: "Right now, since we are young, my foundation is trying to get into inner-city youth and give them options to think outside of the box that they are in. They are not geared to think outside the box and I want to go and show them that they have option routes on how they can be successful and productive in life. Ultimately, I want to get to where I am taking a group of six to 10 kids on a mission trip outside of the country. I want to show them a Third World Country and show them a whole different aspect of life to broaden their horizons."

JH: How can people get involved with your foundation?

MC: "I am president and my mom (Jacquetta) is he vice president. She runs everything. You can give her a call at 972-352-2610. She is always there. I would appreciate any help, any advice or any ideas that anybody has. I am very young in this and I am trying to get the ball rolling."

JH: I have always been amazed at the work you do for the Red Tie Foundation. You never miss the banquet and you are always contributing gifts for people to bid on and win? Why are you so involved in the Red Tie Foundation?

MC: "I have a good time at that banquet, and a lot of great people attend that banquet. There is nothing like good people being around good people. The time that you have there, the energy that is there is amazing. Jackie Cooper does a really good job and everything that he does from the music, from the entertainment and everything that he does is first class. I really appreciate him for that."

JH: Tommie Harris always looks good at that banquet, doesn't he?

MC: "Yeah, every since he went to Dr. Fitzgerald and got his smile, his teeth done, he calls himself 'Million Dollar' (laughing). He has a million dollar smile, man. And he looks good."

JH: The big news in Baltimore is that you have a new quarterback as Steve 'Air' McNair is now on your team. What are your thoughts on McNair being named the starter two minutes after the trade was announced?

MC: "Steve is going to be a tremendous asset to our team. He brings so much to the table not only as a great player, but he has been doing it for years at such a high level. He is a great guy. The first time I met him the first thing he said to me was that we were going to get Kyle (Boller) comfortable here and figure this thing out. That says a lot because he knows Kyle (Boller) is young and that he is definitely capable of being a starting quarterback in this league. He knows that having that kind of a 1-2 combination on our team just in case something happens to him is a great plus for us. He knows that Kyle needs to be ready to come in and make plays so we won't drop off. I am excited about this year."

JH: I am sure you have learned that pro football is a big business, haven't you?

MC: "It is definitely a business. The NFL owners want to win. They are going to make moves and do what it takes to win, and they are going to bring the players in they feel are going to deliver the W's. I am behind our organization 110 percent. Trust me, Ozzie (Newsome), our General Manager, and our owner are going to make the right decisions."

JH: How did you feel your first year in the NFL went for you?

MC: "I thought it was good, but you can always be better. Nobody is perfect, but I definitely strive for perfection. I am happy, but I don't accept mediocrity so I am going to continue to work and continue to work until I get to the level that I think I can get to."

JH: You really didn't think you were mediocre last year did you?

MC: "I wasn't what I wanted. That is for sure."

JH: Catch us up with the Baltimore Sooners?

MC: "Dan (Cody) is doing well. He is coming on off that leg injury. He sprints and he is fresh. He is a rookie all over again. He gets to come in fresh this year and I know he is excited about it. I am excited for him to really get out there and get a real taste for the NFL. Kelly (Greg) is amazing and just a great character. He is a clown at all times and he is a guy who just loves football and just loves to be around the game. He loves the snow in the grass, the dirt on the field. Kelly is just a football guy. The organization really loves him. Chris (Chester) has just come in and he is young. I know what he is capable of and our guys are getting to see what kind of product we had at Oklahoma, and we are really impressed with him."

JH: What do you think of the new receiver group at OU?

MC: "I really like Malcolm (Kelly), who is a longer guy and can stretch the field and make the tough catch, the tough plays. I feel he is the one that is going to be there on a consistent basis. He will be there week in and week out. He will get the job done. I like (Juaquin) Iglesias and his playmaking ability. He can be a very fine player. He just needs to fine-tune his game and work on his fundamentals, and that will take him to the next level. I think for Fred Strong, Eric Huggins and Quentin Chaney, I feel this year should be a breakout year for them. Paul Thompson has tremendous potential and Manuel Johnson has great speed. I think as a group they can be really special."

JH: Mark, talk about the gift you recently gave to the city of New Orleans?

MC: "I am truly blessed and I think it is the responsibility of the people that are blessed to give back to others. Me and my mom, this past weekend, got together with Feed the Children and went to New Orleans and we were able to provide enough food for 800 families. It was absolutely amazing to just see the people come and the smile that they had on their face. That put a smile on my face. It was an outstanding weekend and one that I will never forget. We thought we were only going to feed 400 people, but in the end when we teamed up with Feed the Children, which is located right there in Oklahoma, we figured enough food for 800 people would benefit the entire area."

JH: What were your impressions of that area?

MC: "You can see that they are making some progress, but they are still struggling. You can see that many people in the area are just struggling to come up with the necessities for themselves. It was really breathtaking and to go down there. The experience it touches your heart."


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