Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen Dead at Age 72

By Michael Mar 4, 2024

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has died at the age of 72.

Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN chairman, confirmed Mortensen’s death in a statement via X on Sunday, March 3.

“Mort was widely respected as an industry pioneer and universally beloved as a supportive, hard-working teammate,” the statement read. “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.”

ESPN shared a photo of Mortensen smiling as he sat at his desk and captioned the post, “ESPN is very sorry to have to share this devastating news. Award-winning journalist Chris Mortensen passed away this morning at the age of 72.”

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Following the news of Mortensen’s death, several stars shared tributes to him via social media, including Peyton Manning, who took to Instagram to share that he was “heartbroken” by Mortensen’s death. (When Manning, 47, retired from the NFL in 2016, Mortensen broke the news.)

“We lost a true legend,” Manning wrote on Sunday alongside snaps of the two. “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 [his wife] Micki & his family. Rest in peace, Mort.”

In 2016, Mortensen was diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer. He initially took a leave of absence after the diagnosis, and Mortensen retired from ESPN in September 2023 (though he planned to still appear on the network sporadically).

“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 via X at the time. “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.”

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He joined ESPN in 1991 and contributed to the network’s NFL shows and “SportsCenter.” Before his career in broadcasting, he covered the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, winning a George Polk Award in 1987 for his reporting.

Mortensen, who served in the Army for two years, was nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes during his career. He’s survived by his wife, Micki Mortensen, and son Alex Mortensen, who is a football coach.

By Michael

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