ESPN NFL Reporter Chris Mortensen Dead at 72

Must read

In Memoriam: Fallen Stars of 2023

The sports broadcasting world is in mourning.

Chris Mortensen, who worked as an NFL reporter and analyst for ESPN for more than 30 years, died March 3, his family told the sports outlet. The award-winning journalist, who retired last year, was 72.

“Mort was widely respected as an industry pioneer and universally beloved as a supportive, hard-working teammate,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro 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.”

Chris is survived by his wife of 39 years, Micki Mortensen, 65, and their son Alex Mortensen, 38, a University of Alabama at Birmingham football coach and former quarterback.

Chris, an Army veteran from California, began his journalism career as an investigative sports reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, mostly covering the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons. In 1987, he won the George Polk Award for reporting. Throughout his career, he received 18 awards in journalism and was nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes.

Chris joined ESPN in 1991. Throughout his time with the company, he worked as a reporter for shows such as NFL GameDaySunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown, a contributor to SportsCenter and as an analyst for the cable network’s NFL draft coverage.

In January 2016, Chris said in a statement to ESPN that he has been diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer and would be “temporarily stepping away” from his regular NFL coverage duties. The following August, he announced in another statement that after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, his cancer had been “virtually reduced to zero detection of the disease through the latest scans and exams. He returned to work at ESPN months later.

Maury Phillips/WireImage

Last September, Chris announced his retirement. “Excited about another season but it’s time to reveal after my 33rd NFL draft in April, I made a decision to step away from ESPN and focus on my health, family and faith,” he wrote on X. “The gratitude and humility is overwhelming. It’s not a classic retirement. I’ll still be here talking ball. It’s just time. God Bless you all.”

Twitter / Chris Mortenson

Following news of his death, Chris received a slew of tributes from fans, colleagues and friends, including NFL icon Peyton Manning. The journalist was the first to report the news of the legendary Broncos quarterback’s retirement.

“Heartbroken,” the athlete wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of himself with Chris. “We lost a true legend. 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.”

For the latest breaking news updates, click here to download the E! News App

More articles

Latest article