ESPN football analyst Chris Mortensen dead at 72

 March 4, 2024

ESPN announced on Sunday the passing of legendary NFL analyst Chris Mortensen at the age of 72.

Mortensen, who retired from ESPN in September 2023 before the NFL season commenced, was widely recognized as an industry pioneer and a cherished teammate known for his exceptional coverage of the NFL.

The announcement

In a social media post, ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro expressed heartfelt condolences, describing Mortensen as a dedicated and hard-working professional who brought extraordinary skill and passion to his work. Pitaro's tribute highlighted Mortensen's significant impact on both colleagues and fans alike.

Mortensen's illustrious journalism career began in 1969, spanning a variety of topics including news, investigations, and sports.

He joined ESPN in 1991, coinciding with the release of his book, "Playing for Keeps: How One Man Kept the Mob from Sinking Its Hooks into Pro Football."

Mortensen faced a formidable challenge in 2016 when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer, leading to a temporary leave of absence from ESPN and eventually his retirement in September 2023.

His background

Born in Torrance, California, in 1951, Mortensen initially honed his journalistic skills at the Daily Breeze before joining the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

His tenure at ESPN solidified his reputation as a leading NFL analyst, earning him widespread admiration and respect within the industry.

Mortensen's personal life also left a lasting legacy. He married Micki, and together they welcomed their son, Alex, into the world.

Following in his father's footsteps, Alex pursued a career in football, playing quarterback for the Arkansas Razorbacks before joining the NFL as a member of the Tennessee Titans. Presently, Alex serves as the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama at Birmingham under the guidance of head coach Trent Dilfer.

His legacy

Chris Mortensen's passing marks the end of an era in NFL journalism. His dedication, expertise, and passion for the sport endeared him to colleagues and fans alike, leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

β€œHeartbroken,” NFL great Peyton Manning wrote. "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.”

While his presence will be sorely missed, his contributions to the world of sports journalism will be celebrated and remembered for generations to come.

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