If you're on the Falcon Report website, there's a good chance you've already heard of Vaughn McClure's passing Thursday at the age of 48.
McClure was a part of ESPN's NFL Nation, and was the reporter for the Atlanta Falcons. For the last several years, he was at most, if not every, Falcons practice and game. Over the pandemic, as press conferences went virtual, McClure always went second in the order of 20+ reporters on each call. Former Falcons coach Dan Quinn and current quarterback Matt Ryan always addressed him when answering his questions.
"Shocked and saddened by the passing of Vaughn McClure," Ryan wrote. "He was a staple of the Atlanta media for the better part of the last decade and I always appreciated his professionalism and humanity."
This past summer, the man who made a living off asking the detailed questions surrounding the hardcore Xs and Os daily asked players like Alex Mack and Ryan their thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement. The questions were asked fresh off George Floyd's death, and before speaking out against injustice reached a certain level of PR safety because every other organization did it.
He followed former Falcon offensive lineman Jamon Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles to complete a story about the Louisville native's dedication to the pursuit of social justice after the death of Breonna Taylor in his hometown.
One time, the late Kobe Bryant was asked what exactly the Mamba Mentality was. The Hall of Famer said don't look at what he accomplished on the court when searching for the answer, but how he achieved greatness. The attention to detail, his respect and passion for his craft. He said the Mamba Mentality isn't limited to basketball, or any sport. Anyone can use it for any profession. Beyond the questions McClure asked, he personified the Mamba Mentality day-in-and-day-out.
After he asked questions on virtual press conferences, he'd often turn his camera off to record a video of a Falcons' answer on his phone to immediately upload conference video before any other reporter did. He responded to fan DMs and truly tapped into the Falcons' community to receive any possible tips on breaking news stories.
His very last day on Earth, he tweeted out the details of the Falcons' roster dealing with the positive COVID-19 test of rookie defensive lineman Marlon Davidson.
"I respected Vaughn for his dedication to his craft, for his fairness in reporting, and for the love he felt towards his family," Illinois football, and former Chicago Bears coach, Lovie Smith wrote. "We lost a good man today!!"
McClure always stopped to say hey if you approached him first, but he made his intentions clear- he wanted to come out of every Falcons' event with the best story.
"Few people in this business are liked by everybody," Todd Archer, ESPN NFL Nation's Dallas Cowboys reporter, wrote. "Vaughn McClure was one of them. Truly one of the kindest. He will be missed by all of us. RIP."
During NFL offseasons, he could occasionally be found on press row at an Atlanta Hawks game. McClure loved basketball, and the basketball community respected him back, as personalities like The Undefeated NBA writer Marc Spears and NBA veteran Jamal Crawford tweeted out condolences Thursday.
"His back and forth banter in all things basketball was a welcome change of pace during open locker rooms," Ryan wrote. "Rest in Peace! You will be missed."
Oftentimes, members of the media can feel as meer flies on the wall. Journalism is oftentimes a thankless profession, and a lack of understanding impact can get mixed within that.
If Thursday's reaction, from Brian Urlacher to Lance Briggs to Chris Mortensen to Adam Schefter to Jamal Anderson to Adrian Wojnarowski to Jay Glazer to Pro Football Talk, the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, The Athletic, WSB-TV, NFL Network, 92.9 The Game and AJC was any indication- McClure's dedication to his craft left an impact on perhaps even more people than he realized.
Rest in Power.