Chris Mortensen, Longtime ESPN NFL Reporter, Dies at 72

The award-winning analyst was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer in 2016

Kevin C. Cox/AAF/Getty Images

Chris Mortensen, an award-winning journalist who reported on the NFL at ESPN for over 30 years, has died. He was 72.

Mortensen’s death was shared by his longtime employer ESPN. The network’s Adam Schefter, a longstanding colleague of Mortensen, tweeted, “An absolutely devastating day. Mort was one of the greatest reporters in sports history, and an even better man. Sincerest condolences to his family, and all who knew and loved him. So many did. Mort was the very best. He will be forever missed and remembered.”

Mortensen was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer in 2016. He underwent 35 radiation treatments and later told Sports Illustrated, “I wondered, you know … whether I’d finish out the year.”

He joined ESPN in 1991 as a contributor. Mortensen also broke news for the outlet and was first to report that Peyton Manning was retiring from the NFL in 2016. In the same year, he received the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick McCann Award and was celebrated at the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement ceremony.

Prior to coming on board at ESPN, Mortensen began his career in journalism at the South Bay (California) Daily Breeze. He also covered the Falcons, Braves and NFL at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he stayed until 1990. He then spent three years at The National.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement, “I join the immeasurable number of hearts across the nation, in journalism and the sports community, as we mourn Chris Mortensen. I’m grateful to have had the privilege of knowing Chris through his incredible work beginning at his days at the Atlanta Journal Constitution and like so many, being blessed by his professional excellence and personal grace through the many years that have followed.”

“I considered Chris a personal hero of my mine and it is truly hard to imagine sports journalism without him. His ability to take on life’s obstacles with grit and determination was always truly inspiring and his enormous impact on so many, me included, will live on through this work and unwavering friendships. I send my deepest condolences to Chris’ family and friends, and pray they find peace in the honorable legacy and positive influence that Chris leaves behind.”

Mortensen was born in Torrance, California on Nov. 7, 1951. He is survived by his wife, Micki, and son, Alex.


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