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Renowned ESPN NFL Reporter Chris Mortensen Passes Away at 72: A Look Back at His Storied Career

In a heartbreaking announcement, ESPN revealed on Sunday the passing of Chris Mortensen, a revered figure in sports journalism, at the age of 72. The news was met with an outpouring of tributes from colleagues, players, and fans who recognized Mortensen’s exceptional contributions to the world of NFL reporting.

Mortensen’s illustrious career spanned close to four decades, with 32 years dedicated to ESPN as a senior analyst. Known for his deep insights, impeccable reporting skills, and unwavering passion for the game, Mortensen had become a fixture on ESPN’s NFL coverage, appearing on various shows, including “Sunday NFL Countdown,” serving as an analyst for the NFL Draft, and contributing to “SportsCenter.”

ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro expressed the sentiments of many, stating, “Mort was widely respected as an industry pioneer and universally beloved as a supportive, hard-working teammate. 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’s impact on NFL reporting was immeasurable. He was not just a journalist but a trailblazer who helped shape the landscape of sports journalism, particularly in the realm of football. His extensive coverage and meticulous reporting set the standard for the industry, earning him accolades and admiration from peers and fans alike.

The veteran journalist joined ESPN in 1991, and throughout his tenure, he played a pivotal role in the network’s comprehensive coverage of the NFL, which evolved into year-round programming. Mortensen’s ability to break news was legendary, with one of his notable scoops being the confirmation of Hall of Famer Peyton Manning’s retirement from the NFL in 2016.

Mortensen’s dedication to his craft did not waver even in the face of personal adversity. In 2016, he bravely shared his diagnosis of Stage IV throat cancer. Despite the challenges posed by his health, Mortensen continued to contribute to ESPN, demonstrating resilience and determination that earned him widespread admiration.

In September 2023, Mortensen made the difficult decision to step away from his role at ESPN, stating, “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.” This decision marked the end of an era for ESPN, as Mortensen concluded his remarkable career.

Throughout his journey, Mortensen’s impact extended beyond the realm of reporting. His generosity, kindness, and mentoring endeared him to many, with colleagues and friends expressing their deep sense of loss. NFL insider Adam Schefter shared on social media, “An absolutely devastating day. Mort was one of the greatest reporters in sports history, and an even better man. Mort was the very best. He will be forever missed and remembered.”

As the sports world mourns the loss of a legend, Mortensen’s legacy remains etched in the annals of sports journalism. His profound influence, journalistic excellence, and the mark he left on ESPN will endure, a testament to the enduring impact of a man who dedicated his life to the love of the game and the art of storytelling.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to Chris Mortensen’s family, friends, and the entire sports journalism community as they navigate through this difficult time. May he rest in peace, and may his legacy continue to inspire aspiring journalists and football enthusiasts for generations to come.