Vaughn McClure, who covered the Atlanta Falcons beat for ESPN, died this week at his home near Atlanta. He was 48.

In 2013, McClure joined ESPN to cover the NFL and then settled in on the Atlanta Falcons beat as part of NFL Nation. He also contributed to ESPN’s television and radio coverage of the Falcons and the NFL.

Senior Deputy Editor for digital NFL coverage at ESPN John Pluym said, “We all loved Vaughn. 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.”

“Talking to Vaughn on the phone was always a joy,” Pluym continued. “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,” he added. “And I’ll end this the way Vaughn ended every phone call with a colleague: ‘Appreciate you. Love you.’ We all loved him, too.”

People paid their tribute to McClure on social media after hearing the news of his death.

Sending his condolences, Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher wrote, “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.”

Joshua McCown, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, wrote, “Heartbreaking news about Vaughn McClure. Text[ed] last week for background on some QB stuff. He was a very thorough journalist. Always a positive vibe every time we connected. Finished every text with ‘love ya bro.’ Rest well Vaughn. Love ya bro.”

In a statement, Falcons said, “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.”

Patricia Mays, senior director of content strategy and distribution at ESPN, said, “People will probably remember how Vaughn was able to connect and develop trusting relationships with many of the athletes he covered, or how diligent he was about deadlines or the countless times he volunteered to help out a colleague on another sport.”

Mays, who brought McClure to the company, added, “But what I respected most was how committed he was to continually improving. 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.’” McClure was a Chicago native. He graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1994.