Vaughn McClure, an ESPN beat writer for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons since 2013, died this week near his home in Atlanta. He was just 48 years old.
McClure joined ESPN to cover the NFL and appeared regularly on the network’s daily program SportsCenter. He wrote in-depth features, provided video updates, and offered statistical analysis of the Atlanta Falcons as part of ESPN’s NFL Nation. McClure also covered the Falcons during their run to Super Bowl LI in 2017.
John Pluym, senior deputy editor for digital NFL coverage at ESPN, said everyone at the network “Loved Vaughn” and that the Falcons beat writer “had a heart of gold.”
“He was so helpful to our reporters. In the last few hours, we’ve heard so many stories about how Vaughn had helped them with a story or how he put in a good word for them with a coach or player,” Pluym said.
“Talking to Vaughn on the phone was always a joy. I loved how you could just sense the excitement in his voice for being able to cover the Falcons for ESPN. We will all miss him greatly.”
McClure, who was a Chicago native, graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1994. Prior to moving to ESPN, he covered the Bears for the Chicago Tribune for six years while also covering the Bulls during the postseason.
McClure spent time covering Notre Dame Football for the Chicago Sun-Times and Fresno State basketball for The Fresno Bee. He also spent time at the South Bend Tribune and DeKalb Daily Chronicle.
One of the first individuals to pay tribute to McClure was Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, who spent his entire 13-year career as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears.
“Today I was very saddened to hear about the passing of my dear friend Vaughn McClure,” Urlacher wrote on Twitter. “We became fast friends when he was covering the Bears. He had a big heart and was one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. You will be missed.”
Veteran NFL quarterback Josh McCown also sent his condolences on social media.
“Heartbreaking news about Vaughn McClure. Text[ed] last week for background on some QB stuff. He was a very thorough journalist,” McCown wrote. “Always a positive vibe every time we connected. Finished every text with ‘love ya bro.’ Rest well Vaughn. Love ya bro.”
Atlanta Falcons longtime quarterback Matt Ryan said he was “shocked and saddened” by McClure’s passing. Ryan said he “always appreciated his professionalism and humanity” and that McClure would “be missed.”
President and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons Rich McKay said McClure was “an earnest, thoughtful reporter who had a passion for his craft and the relationships he held.”
“We are saddened to learn of the passing of ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. He will be missed dearly and we are holding his family, friends and associates in our thoughts and prayers,” McKay said in a statement.