Longtime NFL Reporter Is Dead at 72

Chris Mortensen was a fixture for decades at ESPN
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2024 7:49 AM CST
ESPN's Chris Mortensen Is Dead at 72
In a photo supplied by ESPN, Chris Mortensen appears on the set of 'Sunday NFL Countdown' at ESPN's studios in Bristol, Conn., in 2019.   (ESPN via AP)

Chris Mortensen, a longtime NFL analyst for ESPN, died Sunday at age 72, per the AP. There was no immediate word on the cause of death, though Mortensen announced in 2016 that he he had been diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer. Even while undergoing treatment, he was the first to confirm the retirement of Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Mortensen announced his retirement after the NFL Draft last year so that he could "focus on my health, family, and faith."

  • Mortensen joined ESPN in 1991, and for years helped shape the network's coverage as the NFL exploded into year-round coverage. Besides appearing on a myriad of network shows, he also wrote for ESPN.com.
  • Mortensen also worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 1983-89. He also wrote for the National, the Sporting News, and Sport magazine, and he was a consultant for CBS' The NFL Today in 1990.
  • He received the Dick McCann Award from the Professional Football Writers of America in 2016. It was renamed to the Bill Nunn Jr. Award in 2021 and is presented yearly during the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies to the reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution through their coverage of the game.
  • "We lost a true legend," Manning said in a social media post. "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."
(More obituary stories.)

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