Chris Mortensen, longtime ESPN NFL journalist, dead at 72

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Mortensen had stepped away from his role at ESPN last year to “focus on my health, family and faith.”

WASHINGTON — Longtime ESPN journalist Chris Mortensen, who covered the NFL for more than three decades, has died. He was 72. 

The network announced the award-winning journalist’s death on Sunday and did not disclose details on a cause of death. Mortensen was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer in 2016.

“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,” the statement continued.

Mortensen joined ESPN in 1991 and was a regular contributor to the network’s shows and “SportsCenter,” according to ESPN.  

The 72-year-old journalist often covered breaking news for ESPN, including Peyton Manning’s retirement from the NFL. He stepped away from his role at the network last year to “focus on my health, family and faith,” according to ESPN.

The former NFL star paid tribute to Mortenson soon after the announcement of his death. 

“Heartbroken. 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,” Manning said on Instagram. “I will miss him dearly and my thoughts and prayers are with Micki & his family. Rest in peace, Mort.”

Mortenson received the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick McCann Award in 2016 and was honored in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s ceremony that same year. 

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Chris Mortensen, longtime ESPN NFL journalist, dead at 72

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