Chris Mortensen dies at 72: NFL & sports media world mourn loss of award-winning ESPN analyst

Chris Mortensen, an award-winning journalist best known for over 30 years of NFL coverage on ESPN, died on Sunday, March 3. He was 72.

Mortensen was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2016, but he returned to ESPN later that year after a leave of absence. He first appeared on ESPN in 1991 and made his final appearance during the network’s coverage of the 2023 NFL Draft last April. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season, Mortenson announced that he would be stepping away “to focus on my health, family and faith.”

Mortensen previously worked for the Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The National, and as a columnist for The Sporting News. He won 18 journalism awards throughout his career, including the National Headliner Award for Investigative Reporting in 1978.

Throughout his career, Mortensen established himself as one of ESPN’s premier NFL insiders for his work on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Outside the Lines, and NFL Draft coverage.

While he stepped away from ESPN, Mortensen continued to share his thoughts on the game, sharing analysis on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, throughout the 2023 season and playoffs.

“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.”

NFL, sports media world mourn Chris Mortensen’s passing

The sports media took to social media to mourn the loss of an icon. 


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