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ESPN

NFL reporter Vaughn McClure, who covered the Atlanta Falcons for ESPN, was found dead in his apartment near Atlanta this week. He was 48.

No cause of death was released, but a source said he complained of headaches in the days leading up to his death.

McClure reported on the firing of Falcons coach Dan Quinn on Wednesday. He was a regular contributor on ESPN's television and radio coverage of the Falcons and the NFL.

Tributes poured in on social media from around the sports world.

"We all loved Vaughn," said John Pluym, senior deputy editor for digital NFL coverage at ESPN.

"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."

A Chicago native, McClure spent six seasons covering the Chicago Bears for the Chicago Tribune before being hired at ESPN in September 2013.

"Vaughn McClure made you feel like a celebrity every time you saw him. I simply cannot believe he is gone. Absolutely crushing," tweeted Dan Graziano.

McClure's last Instagram post in June detailed his struggle with depression following the deaths of his parents, brother and sister.

He captioned a photo of himself with his late father:

"For me, I'm still trying to get over the depression of losing you, Mom, Mark, & Nona. With my big sis dying at age 38 and lil bro at 27, I wonder sometimes how much time I've got left. I want to live long. I've told myself no matter what, I want to honor the memories of all four of you while I’m alive."

 

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Dad, This is the first Father’s Day without you, and we would have celebrated your birthday Tuesday. But you’re in Heaven, and sorely missed. I’m so glad God allowed me to spend extensive time with you before you joined Him up there. You’re not missing anything down here, actually. This world is messed up. For me, I’m still trying to get over the depression of losing you, Mom, Mark, & Nona. With my big sis dying at age 38 and lil bro at 27, I wonder sometimes how much time I’ve got left. I want to live long. I’ve told myself no matter what, I want to honor the memories of all four of you while I’m alive. The only way to do that is to give everything I have no matter what obstacles I encounter. I don’t know where I’d be right now without the support of Vaurice Patterson, Nick Gialamas, Mike Wells, and Chris Burt. I’d be down and out, honestly. But those guys constantly lift me up. If you were here now, Dad, we would have plenty to discuss. There’s so much hate going on in America, so much racial injustice. It makes me think about the support you gave me the time I got beat down with clubs by six white police officers 20 years ago when I was trying to be a peacemaker and take a drunk friend home. It took a black officer’s phone call to the DA’s office to clear my name when I did nothing wrong in the first place. I’ve held a lot of hate in my heart for years because of that incident, but Mom always told us the Bible said to love your enemies. I regret that you and I didn’t have more discussions about race. Our conversations centered around the Bulls and Bears because sports brought us closer together. But I wish I would have shared with you some of the racial injustices that I encountered, including one even more traumatic than getting beat down by those cops. I’m not going to sit here and say I’ve been the victim of racism all my life. Heck, I deserved some of the bad things that happened to me because I’ve let my anger get the best of me too many times. I was a bad kid/teen/young adult, but I learned from those missteps. You set the example of how to be a strong black man. I have to do a better job of the same. I love you and miss you. Happy Father’s Day.

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Jemele Hill still feels some kind of way about losing her highly visible job at ESPN.

On Wednesday, she joined former First Take host Cari Champion in bashing former First Take analyst Skip Bayless.

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Vice TV

The two women were promoting their new TV show, Cari and Jemele: Stick to Sports, on Vice TV. But, judging from Hill's past, it's doubtful she will stick to sports.

Hill, 44, wrote a column for ESPN2 and previously co-host His & Hers with Michael Smith.

She also made regular appearances on SportsCenter, ESPN First Take, Outside the Lines and The Sports Reporters.

But Hill couldn't keep her personal beliefs separate from her profession, which caused problems with the higher ups at ESPN.

During the 2008 NBA Playoffs, Hill was suspended after referencing Adolf Hitler in an article.

But she really irked her superiors on September 11, 2017 when she wrote a series of tweets referring to President Donald Trump as a "white supremacist."

ESPN issued a statement about Hill's comments, saying they "do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate."

Hill apologized after realizing her value as a Black female sportscaster was rapidly shrinking.

"My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light," she said.

A month later, ESPN suspended Hill for two weeks for a "second violation of our social media guidelines".

In January 2018, she was demoted to a writer's position at The Undefeated, ESPN’s website.

In October 2018, The Atlantic announced Hill was joining the magazine as a staff writer.

Hill's dramatic fall from grace was complete.
 

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Two prominent Black sports reporters lost their jobs at major sports networks this week. ESPN sports reporter Josina Anderson parted ways with the sports channel after nearly 10 years, and Jason Whitlock, 53, was shown the door at Fox Sports.

According to reports, Anderson's contract expired with ESPN and it was not renewed. The same goes for Jason Whitlock whose contract expired at Fox Sports.

Anderson, 41, is very active on Twitter.com but she did not acknowledge the news of her departure.

The NY Post reports the network's decision not to renew Anderson's contract was not Covid-19 related.

Whitlock, a controversial and outspoken host, was often criticized for his views about sports personalities such as LeBron James. And Anderson once reported that former NFL player Michael Sam's teammates refused to shower with him because he was in a same-sex relationship.

Whitlock, who hosted "Speak for Yourself" with Marcellus Wiley, slammed James for speaking out about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed while running through a majority white neighborhood in south Georgia earlier this year.

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Former Chicago Bulls player Horace Grant says the recent ESPN documentary about Bulls legend Michael Jordan was "90 percent bullsh*t."

Grant says criticism of Jordan was "edited out" of the final cut the "so-called documentary" titled Michael Jordan: The Last Dance.

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Grant (pictured center) won three NBA championships with Jordan (holding trophy) before joining the Orlando Magic. He said the documentary painted Jordan in a better light than reality.

"I would say [the documentary was] BS in terms of the realness of it," Grant told ESPN 1000's Kap podcast.

"It wasn't real -- because a lot of things [Jordan] said to some of his teammates, that his teammates went back at him. But all of that was kind of edited out of the documentary, if you want to call it a documentary."

The NBA allowed Jordan to "retire" gracefully following the 1992–93 season after it was reported that Jordan had a gambling problem and bet on his own team.
 

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Only 705,000 viewers tuned in to watch ESPN's D. Wade: Life Unexpected, a candid look at Dwyane Wade's life on and off the court.

The documentary drew Less than 1 million viewers despite the heavy press coverage of Wade's gender confused child, Zion Wade, a 12-year-old boy who calls himself Zaya and prefers feminine pronouns.

In addition to Zaya, the former Miami Heat star and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, 47, share 18-month-old daughter Kaavia James. He is also father to 18-year-old son Zaire and 6-year-old son Xavier, whose mother is family friend, Aja Metoyer.

Esquire magazine breathlessly called the documentary "a groundbreaking portrait of modern fatherhood" and "a breakthrough as a sports documentary" that "calls attention to the way we've viewed and discussed fatherhood in past years."

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An advanced screening of Wade's documentary at the massive AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami drew less than 1,000 fans on Sunday.

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In the documentary, Wade, 38, talked about how, when he was "on a break" from Union, he fathered Xavier. And about his public divorce from his first wife, Siohvaughn Funches, with whom he reached a $5 million settlement that included an NDA agreement.

Esquire referred to Wade's announcement about Zaya "the highest point" of the documentary.

"I looked at her and said, 'You are a leader. You are a leader and this is our opportunity to allow you to be a voice," Wade told openly lesbian TV host Ellen Degeneres.

"Right now it's through us because she's 12 years old, but eventually it'll be through her," Wade said.

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Barry Booker is on the chopping block after he made "sexist comments" about female gymnasts during a broadcast of a men's basketball game.

The 53-year-old former Vanderbilt basketball player joked during the promo for an upcoming SEC gymnastics event to be covered by the SEC network.

Booker made the comments during Saturday's live broadcast of the Arkansas-Missouri basketball game.

"Honey, I'm going to hang out with the ladies," Booker said live on the air. "I mean, I want to go see some scantily clad girls."

His fellow announcer, Richard Cross, quickly made it clear that he did not condone such behavior. "No!" Cross said, before adding that gymnastics meets "one of the great family atmospheres that you'll find in all of college athletics."

But Booker kept going, clearly thinking his typical male locker room talk was just jokes.

"I'll stay home and watch," he said. "Actually, I'll be on the road. I'll be somewhere. I'll be in my hotel room watching 'Friday Night Heights.'"

After the predictable backlash from the gymnastics community, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey condemned Booker's locker room talk as "inappropriate".

Sankey noted "the SEC's women's gymnastics student-athletes deserve our support for many reasons" and that Booker's comments were highly "inappropriate and do not meet the expectations we have for the SEC network."

The SEC and ESPN networks also issued statements condemning Booker's comments.

Enraged Twitter activists called on Sankey to fire Booker immediately.

Twitter user @MGrizzle wrote:

"Barry Booker's comments about college gymnastics and scantily clad women is totally inappropriate. It may not have been heard widely, but surely the standard for what is acceptable commentary is higher than that."

Former gymnast Sydney McGlone tweeted:

"As a former gymnast in the SEC, I am disappointed in the comments made yesterday towards gymnasts during the ARK/Mizzou basketball game. However, I'm glad the commentator is being reprimanded and we are able to address the issue."

McGlone later told the Washington Post she was disappointed that Booker made the comment "with ill intent and sexualizing of a sport that has already faced so much when it comes to sexual abuse."

Booker was a standout guard who helped lead the Vanderbilt Commodores to the school's only back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances (1988 and 1989).

He still holds Vanderbilt's record for 3-point shot percentages. He graduated in 1989 with a bachelors degree in economics. He earned an MBA in finance from Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management in 1987.

Booker works for CBS Sports and Fox SportsNet covering local Vanderbilt basketball games in his hometown of Nashville, where he resides with his wife, Rena, and their two sons Clay, 7, and Bryan, 5.

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Terrell Owens angered Stephen A. Smith when he said a white co-host was "Blacker" than the outspoken ESPN host. Owens made the remark during a guest appearance on ESPN's First Take on Thursday morning.

Owens and Smith engaged in a heated debate on the issue of Colin Kaepernick playing in the NFL again. Smith has been criticized for mocking the unemployed quarterback whose recent NFL workout was dismissed by Smith as a PR stunt.

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Owens pointed out that Smith's co-host, Max Kellerman, who is white, defended Kaepernick, saying the NFL and critics were unfair and racist toward the hapless quarterback.

"What (Colin Kaepernick) wanted was transparency - for people to see the full workout, to see the full Colin Kaepernick... I'm in the streets. Max (Kellerman) almost seems blacker than you, Stephen A., with his commentary," Owens said to Smith. "I'm just saying. I'm just saying. I'm just saying."

Smith, who is Black, was livid. "Timeout. Timeout. Timeout. Timeout. Timeout. Timeout. With all due respect, my brother, wait a minute. I'm-a check you right now. You've done crossed the line. Timeout. Timeout. Timeout. Wait a minute. You've done crossed the line," Smith replied.

After the show, Smith said he was "offended" by the former NFL star for challenging his Blackness and basically calling him a coon.

"T.O. obviously offended me very, very much by questioning my blackness the way that he did," said Smith.

"I thought it was bush league. I think it's BS. But I forgive him. He's my brother. And I got love for him. And it is what it is. There's a lot of black people out there in America at this particular moment in time that have a problem with the position that I take. That's fine. I want to assure everybody in the black community; I'm not backing up one damn bit. I'm not changing my mind. I'm not bowing down to y'all vitriol and the venom that y'all are aiming in my direction. Keep it coming. I don't give a damn. Because I know I am right on this