Veteran ESPN NFL reporter Vaughn McClure has been found dead at his apartment in Atlanta at the age of 48.
No cause of death has yet been announced for McClure, who covered the Atlanta Falcons for ESPN’s NFL Nation section.
The broadcaster, who was born in Chicago, was a regular contributor to ESPN’s coverage of the Falcons on TV and radio, and covered the team’s Super Bowl LI run in 2017, where they lost to the New England Patriots.
In a statement released on Thursday, John Pluym, senior deputy editor for digital NFL coverage, said: “We all loved Vaughn.”
He added: “He 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.”
Several colleagues and NFL players also paid tribute to McClure, who reported on the Falcons as recently as Wednesday.
Falcons team president Rich McKay wrote: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of ESPN's Vaughn McClure.
“He was an earnest, thoughtful reporter who had a passion for his craft and the relationships he held. He will be missed dearly and we are holding his family, friends and associates in our thoughts and prayers.”
McClure joined ESPN from the Chicago Tribune in 2013, after spending six years covering the Chicago Bears. The team released a statement on Thursday, saying it was “saddened by this loss and sending our sincere condolences.”
Players from both the Bears and the Falcons also reacted to McClure’s death, with Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher writing: “Today I was very saddened to hear about the passing of my dear friend Vaughn McClure.
“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. RIP HOMIE.”
Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst wrote: “Can't believe this...chatted with him only a week ago. Life is so precious. Don't take a second for granted.”
While McClure's ESPN colleague Dan Graziano added: “Vaughn McClure made you feel like a celebrity every time you saw him. I simply cannot believe he is gone. Absolutely crushing.”