ESPN, NFL mourn longtime reporter Chris Mortensen

March 4 (UPI) -- Personalities from throughout the NFL and sports media continue to mourn longtime ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen, who died at 72 years old.

ESPN announced that Mortensen died Sunday, but did not share his cause of death. The award-winning journalist was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2016. He left his role at ESPN in 2023.


"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."

Mortensen started his career in 1969 at the Daily Breeze newspaper in Torrance, Calif. He also worked at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The National before joining ESPN in 1991.

He authored the book Playing for Keeps: A True Story About Football, Playoffs and the Mob.

Known as one of the early premier news-breakers in the NFL, Mortensen was a fixture for more than 30 years on ESPN platforms and repeatedly announced major developments, including the 2016 retirement of Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.


The Pro Football Writers of America honored Mortensen in 2016 with the Dick McCann Award.

"I admired how hard Chris worked to become one of the most influential and revered reporters in sports," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "He earned our respect and that of many others with his relentless pursuit of news, but also with the kindness he extended to everyone he met.

"He will be greatly missed by many of us in the league who were fortunate to know him well beyond the stories he broke each Sunday. We send our condolences to his family, his colleagues and the many people Chris touched throughout his well-lived life."


Manning called Mortensen "a true legend."

"Mort was the best in the business and I cherished our friendship," Manning wrote on Instagram. "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."

Adam Schefter, Peter King and Daniel Jeremiah were among the reporters to mourn Mortensen through social media posts. Several NFL teams and team owners also offered condolences on X.

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Roman Gabriel, the NFL's first first Filipino-American quarterback who played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1962 through 1972, takes a snap against the Green Bay Packers. Gabriel died at the age of 83 on April 20. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams

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