Veteran ESPN Reporter Dead at 72


Chris Mortensen, the veteran ESPN reporter who covered the NFL for the network for more than 30 years, passed away Sunday morning at the age of 72. His family confirmed the news to ESPN.

“Mort was widely respected as an industry pioneer and universally beloved as a supportive, hard-working teammate,” Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN’s chairman, said in a statement. “He covered the NFL with extraordinary skill and passion, and was at the top of his field for decades. He will truly be missed by colleagues and fans, and our hearts and thoughts are with his loved ones.”

Mortensen, an Army veteran, began his ESPN tenure in 1991, routinely turning up on SportsCenter and elsewhere on the network to give his thoughts on the latest NFL news. He was often chosen by the network to break pressing stories, such as in 2016 when Mortensen announced Peyton Manning’s retirement.

In January of 2016, Mortensen was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer. Later that year, he was awarded the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick McCann Award and was honored during the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement ceremony. Throughout his storied career, Mortensen won 18 journalism awards and was nominated for two Pulitzers.

Mortensen stepped down from his position at ESPN just a few months ago “to focus on my health, family, and faith,” he said at the time. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Micki Mortensen, and their son Alex Mortensen, a former QB and the current football coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

NFL and sports legends, including Manning, poured out of the woodwork to pay tribute to Mortensen, who everyone agreed was an influential part of making ESPN the network it is today.

“We lost a true legend,” Manning said in his tribute. “Mort was the best in the business, and I cherished our friendship. I trusted him with my announcement to sign with the Broncos and with the news of my retirement. I will miss him dearly and my thoughts and prayers are with Micki & his family. Rest in peace, Mort.”

You Might Also Like