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Former Sun-Times reporter Vaughn McClure dies at 48

McClure, a Chicago native who also covered the Bears for the Chicago Tribune, joined ESPN to cover the NFL and settled in on the Atlanta Falcons beat as part of NFL Nation.

Reporter Vaughn McClure covered sports for the Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and ESPN.
Reporter Vaughn McClure covered sports for the Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and ESPN.
Dom Najolia/Chicago Sun-Times

Vaughn McClure, a former Chicago Sun-Times sportswriter who had been covering the NFL for ESPN since 2013, died at his home near Atlanta, the network reported Thursday. He was 48.

The cause of his death was not released.

McClure, a Chicago native who also covered the Bears for the Chicago Tribune, joined ESPN to cover the NFL, and settled in on the Atlanta Falcons beat as part of NFL Nation. He covered the team during its run to Super Bowl LI in 2017. He contributed to ESPN’s television and radio coverage of the Falcons and the NFL as well.

“We all loved Vaughn,” said John Pluym, ESPN’s senior deputy editor for digital NFL coverage. “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.”

Tributes to McClure quickly spread on social media after news of his death, with Bears Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher among those sending condolences.

“Today I was very saddened to hear about the passing of my dear friend Vaughn McClure,” Urlacher said. “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.”

The Falcons said in a statement: “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.”

ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter broke the news on Twitter, tweeting: “ESPN’s NFL Nation Reporter for the Atlanta Falcons, Vaughn McClure, died at his apartment in Atlanta. What a nice man he was. McClure was 48. Rest In Peace.”

McClure graduated from Northern Illinois in 1994.

“What I respected most was how committed he was to continually improving,” said Patricia Mays, senior director of content strategy and distribution at ESPN, who brought McClure to the company. “One of the last emails I received from him was asking for feedback. He wrote: ‘Would love to talk to you after the season about how I can get better at a lot of things. I want to be great at this job.’ “