vIQ #19: Mark Clayton on Oklahoma & NFL Career

In Podcast Season 1, Podcast Season 2by vIQtoryLeave a Comment

On this episode of the vIQtory podcast we are joined by 2x All American Wide Receiver as an Oklahoma Sooner, 7 Year NFL Vet and founder of LIVV Headphones – Mark Clayton. Mark talks to us about the Red River Rivalry, playing the receiver position, learning from a variety of different successful coaches in the NFL and his journey through entrepreneurship as the founder of LIVV Headphones.

Follow Mark on Instagram @livvbrand and check out his game changing headphones at


Steve McGrath

Welcome back, everybody to the victory podcast. I’m your host Steve McGrath. Alongside Chris had add, and today we have another special guest it is none other than Mark Clayton yes the two time all American out of Oklahoma all big 12 former first round pick to the raven seven year NFL career and the head of live headphones that you’re going to get into later. Mark, thank you so much for coming on with us.

Mark Clayton

Thank you so much for having me.

Steve McGrath

You know, the starting point that I really wanted to get into with you because it’s still kind of fresh and I’m sorry to bring it up. But the Red River rivalry this year was definitely a great game. You know, the fury that Oklahoma put on at the end to come this close to winning. I’m not that you necessarily have to break down this year’s game. But I just wanted to ask you, you know, being in that game, you know, what is that atmosphere like?

Mark Clayton

atmosphere is incredible there’s none like in college football and it has

historically been and will always be and just kind of you know going into the stadium alone fans kind of split the road that you’re going into the is this is really special

Steve McGrath

yeah I can only imagine I live in Texas and I felt like the whole town shut down so I can only imagine what it was like playing in it but uh. So I just want to take a couple steps back. You know, could you walk us through when you’re you know a high school athlete I’m sure you have a couple options of where do you want to play here at the next level. How do you ultimately decided Oklahoma’s where you want it to go?

Mark Clayton

Well, I was I was actually born in Oklahoma City and grew up about the fifth grade and then moved down to Texas, Arlington, Texas. And so there’s there was a lot of fool there. Excuse me from the family side.

But you know, in high school watching like Barry Sanders and NFL. I didn’t watch college football. And so the first actual college football game that I wash and paid attention to and it was a Notre Dame when I first got there and Mike, recruiting coordinator. Yep. And so I was as I was being recruited, that was always you know, in my mind and receiver, you want to go to a place in 1998 or 1999 where they throw the ball with a lot of places but where they were, they threw the ball all the time. You felt like you had a chance you get some opportunity and so you know kind of a combination of those.

And then Brett Venables was who recruited me and as these are your journey with the receiver coach and so getting to meet him and those are two polar opposite with various personalities and it was it was sweet to meet them and have them you know come up to me as a as a recruit.

And that was that was you know all that combined with the reason why only became the place now.

Steve McGrath

Who else you have on the table? Do you remember as far as recruiting wise was it was okay or just Oklahoma lead the way and you had your mind set on that the whole time?

Mark Clayton

No. So it was almost Missouri! so in high school I was a play wide receiver essentially one game at the end of my junior varsity and then a my senior year we had a kid that year who was one of the top 10 players in Texas.

So we got a lot of recruits coming in to see him and then our quarterback was a top quarterback in Texas and he ended up going to TCU. Then at the end of the recruiting process LSU came came in and that was when Nick Saban had just got the job so he had came out and that was that.That  was the last school kind of that where I was like, man, I could be cool.

Yeah. Unless, you know, you it really came down to and then Missouri was a kind of that’s cool.

Chris Haddad

And just, you know, Steve mentioned all your accolades at the top of the show. I want to skip a little bit ahead here. Just it’s very interesting. The story. So talk about your quarterback Jason white. And,myou know, he, I have a stat here he became the third Heisman Trophy winner not to be drafted and the other two guys Pete Dawkins chose military career and Charlie Ward chose the NBA.

So essentially, he’s the only guy to just not get drafted. Why do you think that was? Is there anything? I guess that stuck out to you? Because, I mean, he won the Heisman he put it up here. Yeah, I just wanted to give you the floor for that. And just to give you a thoughts on that.

Mark Clayton

Yeah, I think a lot more to do with his injuries. Okay. Anything to turn a CEO .Going to camp with the titans and sure enough he retired quick because of his knee of what’s well up and he can take his draw can take a drop.

so it was like he he gave it all he had yep and won the Heisman and went on to the national and we got Christopher’s USC and that’s that was about all his body contains and so I do think a lot of him not being drafted was nobody wants to take a chance with the back to back

Chris Haddad

yeah hitting the top of that drop us a lot of stress on that back leg to us especially so yeah yeah yeah and there was no running gun back then where everything is shock on now and you can sit there was yeah five seven step drops through so definitely need those nice

so skip ahead here just a little bit more, You get drafted by the Ravens – what was the biggest thing, I know we actually just talked in the positional segment, what was it like going from high school to college let’s talk about going to college to the NFL now what was the biggest adjustment scheme wise going from college to the NFL?

Mark Clayton

Mental IQ! As you know everybody’s fast and strong, you gotta do you there because you got your at your part is the mental aspect of it and understand it not only your scheme but there’s game and then and then you know how to you know you guys are going to try to take advantage of that and then plan the games that are you know within the game.

You have to play games with the guys that that are across across the field from you to understand how defensible how this is a back specific defensive backs play man or zone how different technique and some are more aggressive another in without like it’s just a lot of just

consuming knowledge before you step foot on a field.

And that’s the thing that ultimately allows you to kind of be you as a player just kind of play free but a man it’s just a whole nother world and in Baltimore we had our defensive back my rookie year was

Deion Sanders was in his last year where he was his jersey number was his age.

We had Samari Role and was good and then we had you know every kind of safety play we could

but our like our secondary had chemistry yeah yeah yeah I’ve been here first like , their signing major deals like $70 million deals as a defensive back and I mean that defense or special and I got to learn and listen to those guys talk about you know how they look at receivers and what they look for.

in route running and what gives them you know cues and let them know because every one day one I was trying to count my rookie year Chris McAlister playing man off about 8 off yards  as a corner. and for me I’m my office as opposed to be for the ground and now this look at me trying to sell the post move like a like a comeback.

He’s looking at  the quarterback the whole time, like,  I knew you were going to post shoulders never made it down and back.

Yeah so I mean you think I mean you look at oh six yeah you had a pretty damn good year right 67 receptions that’s a 39 yards five touchdowns would you credit that are coming in rookie year and and those guys kind of not necessarily taking you under their wing but I mean you got to go against those guys every single day that next year you step in there and peace key yeah oh absolutely absolutely going slow down fast growth and trying to campus and you know it is always always you know if see there’s July High School growth like there’s just a reminder that is just football coach girl out exit is this football but you know the pressure of being an NFL is one of the things that have to deal with or whatever but at the end of the day just football so mill around those guys using the so to speak and it made that you know

That’s pretty It was fun and Billick’s first year as coach we left at 3pm why we couldn’t be there after. okay somebody came in you know good our practice and why was that is that just the he just wanted guys to maximize the time.

Well he wants guys doing going to do what we have to do and we’re going to go hard and they were going to go home okay and we’re going to you know enough is that you know in a bunch of time or extra you know.

this is by far the funnest season we ended up 13 and three that year and then we lost to peyton.

But yeah, I mean, it was just been around. Yeah.

Chris Haddad

And the last question, before I pass it back to Steve, we’ve had a fair share of a former and current NFL players on and I don’t think the one thing we haven’t really talked about the pressure, right. And you mentioned it earlier just on like, the pressure playing, like how is it more of just from like a business standpoint of like, I need to perform well, you know, so I can essentially a sort of support my family or is it more of just a pressure of thousands of thousands of people scream night because I mean, you played in front of a pretty big crowd and I in college, so I feel like that pressure isn’t the same as the NFL pressure. Is that on the right page that Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah,

Mark Clayton

it’s definitely not so much that as much as it is, Hey, this is this is your job to get paid to do and if you’re not doing a good job for somebody else to do the job and we’re and at the same time there’s somebody who’s coming after you’re done.

Yeah. And you know, so it’s a level of pressure to perform. We get it. So today but it’s it’s something that decreases with for sure.

Steve McGrath

I just wanted to ask you, you know your time in Baltimore. You come in at a time where Brian Billick had won a Super Bowl. But he’s still with the Ravens. And then, by the time you leave, Harbaugh’s, the coach who after you’re no longer with the Ravens goes on to win a Super Bowl. But you were kind of there for the end of an era beginning of a new era. And so just in terms of the coaches, but, you know, Ed Reed Ray Lewis a lot of the holdovers from the first regime you still played with. Yeah, you know, what was it like just looking at those two head coaches? Why do you think they’ve both been successful?

I think, I think a big part of the success But in that organization starts where Art Modell,Steve BiSciotti and then Ozzie Newsome, you know they put together and then the players personally and again as he does a great job of just bringing in all hours straight up that people don’t buy there was a time where out I’ll be like oh my god like

Bart Scott is playing better than Ray Lewis right right you know the Bart’s got it but my own like this is a BS and as the did a great job of hat like just finding these guys and just town and continually given you know the coaches and saying you know Harbaugh come in and take over was an interesting transition to because I will have a more of a kind of college mentality.

Billick was a hands off and, you know the coaches will handle it is they’ll put in, you know the and you guys are pros so I trust that you’ll you’ll do your homework and so in fact is you know and we were going to be fine about wanted to be involved in everything

Harbaugh was more a micromanager and with that we’re having a bunch of veterans it actually didn’t start off well there’s a few arguments to meetings to have a pro life and an they we’re gonna fight just how he wanted to approach things versus how we collectively wanted to approach things

So that I mean our was a heck of a transition.

But I think what happened was just, you know, we’re all automated, we get on the same page, whereas that is just had to be a level of respect. You know, these guys are doing this and, you know, collecting checks that are bigger than yours and you’re not, he can’t, you know, cheap and then treat them any kind of way and they’re nothing

you know, what happens in these years there, there’s some give on the player sound like totally fine, you got to communicate with us and vice versa.

And that was able to was able to do that and then go on to another consecutive years of a plan for parents, you know, yeah,

Steve McGrath

I want to switch more of the offensive side here and you played under Pat. Schurmer and Josh McDaniels, two guys were still coach in the NFL. Yeah, what made them special?

Mark Clayton

Schirmer was really I mean what’s this okay to me was awesome. was leaving Baltimore where, you know, our deal was cater to the defense and just no mess up. It was the what are we doing is wrong we don’t worry about it and they’ll come to you are you gonna be ready to play? Absolutely.

And so essentially the first game that I play with remember that I mean, I think we did about 15 times and that was just we’re just going to go go, go, go, go. Go.

He was real laid back his personality and he wouldn’t fire anything like just an island. I’m receiver right like can catch it!

And then with Josh he his office like is way more complex but I loved his approach we talk some more about what differences do than anything and how we were going to take advantage of that you know this is what I heard there was likely focuses you know for the week based on their weaknesses and hit that number of different ways and  do the same thing

And I wish you know from a injury standpoint I was able to recover better than I did not really get to spend time playing that often system maybe even get better.

But uh, wasn’t but it was it was a great experience and just be open my eyes to a lot more like

It gave me me a better understanding of defense and then you know how to expose defenses.

Chris Haddad

when you say this complex Do you mean the sense of terminology? Do you mean sense of like you have to understand what the defense is doing because you got to run this specific route and you know is that like the complex terminology?

Mark Clayton

yeah yeah absolutely It was so certain offices are concepts when when we’re a bunch of things yep and then you know there’s over 60different mission your protection 600 whatever it is and then there’s a combination of both and so his his was it was it was all of the above.

In so it was concepts and  it was number system is kind of like West Coast so there was no you know it just dependent on a week where he would pull from the flavor it was going to take his place that I you know dealt with it.

Chris Haddad

Do you think that’s why I mean there’s some there’s been some pretty high profile guys have gone to New England but haven’t got the system so to say and they kind of fizzled out do you think that’s a big part of it just not being able to get ahold of you know I’ve been a concept got my house my whole life where I’ve been a West Coast life and right they can grab it I believe so yeah okay yeah

Depending on how many years you spent in a certain system and then it changes can be you know it can be difficult

Steve McGrath

alright well mark as promised a I want to transition over to what you’ve been doing after your NFL career, LIVV brand headphones I know they look like they are just you know next level so can you just tell me a little bit about like how did you develop that idea and how did you you know ultimately make the strides that you’ve made where it looks like it’s you know a top level product and you know you’re out there competing with you know the Beats of the world and Bose?

Mark Clayton

well yeah we’re not much a blip on the map and compared to those two but the concept started with and I was running route through game and I do have my my beats on and you know they would slide and it just apparent you know, fall off and snap and i I love the over your head phones and so my thought process was hey I don’t if I could figure I can make it over your head on that that will just stay on my head and be more secure than this one?

So that’s where in high school I didn’t think I was actually going to go to college football about our go to the service and try to be an engineer kind of put my engineering hat on about have a headband concept to that I thought would allow for and we sketched up something that what you’re seeing now we go to live with headphones.

We created these a partner of mine l and so getting that and testing it and seeing the results just kind of stuff.

Like, you know, really pursuing it and had that on on one on to spend time in China to produce and development and so now we’re three years into it and this last round of your launch and and we sold about thousand units I did a crowd-funding we did about $100,000 in 30 days and the goal was to was to have this be, you know, r&d for us where we can learn and you know, I knew it was like, you know, I know how to run routes but I don’t know how to do have phones.

So this is all been a hell of a learning process has been incredible. And so it’s been, you know, really cool and tough three years of what I’ll say research and development and at this point

I’m excited to have you know, Nick and produced and manufactured and delivered a half on to an end user or customer is and I’m looking forward to making the making some changes in coming out with a second version that will be head and shoulders better than one and a half that

Steve McGrath

Okay I’d have to imagine you know, being a NFL wide receiver where you have to be so self reliant live up to the pressure you gotta you know, be a professional I’m sure a lot of ways it’s probably helped you take on and entrepreneurial role where it’s all on you, you got to do this you’re going to learn that and no, it’s just it’s always a challenge. But I would assume that just playing you know, at such a high level all the way through your Oklahoma days that that you’re probably used to like it’s no problem just go up and go to work. Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely help with the transition has helped with dealing with, you know, pitfalls and failures and that didn’t work out like

Mark Clayton

We started with and you know, same patient, just a lot of those things and I tell people you know about let their kids in sports just there’s so many invaluable aspects of sport that just cross over to doing life on a daily daily day to day basis.

And so a lot of that has been really big and in helping me, you know, get through this process and continue in this process because there’s been a few times I’m like, Man, I’m just gonna shut it down and call it quits because it’s rough and it’s expensive, you know?

Steve McGrath

Well, obviously, you know, we wish you the best of luck. Wow, will definitely be supporting live Li Vi Vi for all of our listeners.

But before we wrap this up, we have to have you run through the gauntlet one last time. Just a couple quick questions for you where we need to know your knee jerk answer.

Mark I have to ask you what is most important having the number one offense or the number one defense

Mark Clayton

number one offense

Steve McGrath

now did you have one player or one coach that you would have wished if you could go back and do it again that you would have had the opportunity to play for or play with

Mark Clayton

John Fox. Got to meet him a couple times and he was it was just fun loving it was fun loving dude like so like I would have connected really well with him.

Steve McGrath

Best cover corner you went up against

Mark Clayton

Darrelle Revis

Steve McGrath

fair enough you got put on the island. Have a specific pregame ritual that you stuck to?

Mark Clayton

yeah I you know before every game I get out early and I’ll just do a jog around the field and talk to God and and just soaking in the fact that you know I’m playing football and making a living

and it was just these moments and you know at that time was like these are not this is not you know real life is not gonna last so really it was do a job you know spend time with God just soak in that moment time knowing that they wouldn’t last and then stretch, stretch, push the movement.

Steve McGrath

And the last one before we let you off the hook, what’s most important the players or the scheme?

Mark Clayton

The Scheme

Steve McGrath

all right there you have it. Mark, thank you so much for coming on with us. We really appreciate you taking the time to update us on how LIVV is Doing and everyone just go to. Is it live headphones calm?

Thank you for talking to us updating us on that. And just given us the overview of your Oklahoma days in the NFL stuff. We appreciate it.

Mark Clayton

No problem.

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