ESPN’s senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen is on the road to recovery — and heading back to TV screens soon.
After announcing that he had been diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer in January, the on-air veteran shared good news with viewers via an ESPN press statement Wednesday that said, “I received very encouraging news last week from my oncologist team of doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center that now enables me to completely focus on recovery rather than treatment.
“The Stage IV throat (oropharyngel) cancer that was diagnosed in early January and treated with intensive chemotherapy and radiation has been virtually reduced to zero.”
After taking leave from work at ESPN in January, Mortensen hopes to be back on air in a limited role during the 2016 season, which officially kicks off on Sept. 8.
“It has been a long and difficult road for Mort since he was diagnosed, so hearing his positive news is very encouraging,” Seth Markman, ESPN senior coordinating producer said in the statement.
“As we have said all along, when Mort is able to return, his chair on our set will be waiting. He is a beloved member of our ESPN team and we have really missed him these past few months.”
The 64-year-old sportscaster has been with the network since 1991. After growing up in Torrance, California, Mortensen served two years in the Army during the Vietnam War. Then, he worked at several newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he was an investigative reporter and covered the Atlanta Braves, Falcons and the NFL at large.
Mortensen has received 18 awards in journalism over the years and has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes. In 1978, he won the National Headliner Award for Investigative Reporting in all categories.
During his high-profile career at ESPN, Mortensen has reported for the network’s Emmy Award-winning programs “NFL GameDay,” “NFL Countdown,” “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “Outside the Lines.” He has also worked as an analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft.
See Mort’s full message below:
“I received very encouraging news last week from my oncologist team of doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center that now enables me to completely focus on recovery rather than treatment. The Stage IV throat (oropharyngel) cancer that was diagnosed in early January and treated with intensive chemotherapy and radiation has been virtually reduced to zero detection of the disease through the latest scans and exams.
“I do have scheduled exams and scans during the next three months to monitor my status but my oncologists have directed me to recover and rehab from the treatments that have resulted in lengthy hospitalization, significant weight loss, strength, endurance and related health issues. I am following instructions to overcome these challenges.
“My return-to-work status has variables with no definitive target date but I anticipate being able to participate in NFL coverage on a limited basis as the 2016 season gets underway.
“My wife Micki and I want to express our deepest gratitude and humility from the outpouring of love we have received from family, friends, colleagues, the NFL community and beyond, as well as ESPN’s unwavering support. Our hope remains rooted in our deep faith in God and we continue to be grateful to our caring team at M.D. Anderson and my local personal physicians.
“We also want to encourage everyone to support various cancer causes such as the V Foundation – we can testify that these specific organizations are justifiably necessary and righteous to families who encounter this insidious disease.”