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'An Absolutely Devastating Day': Beloved ESPN Reporter Dies at Age 72

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Sports reporter Chris Mortensen, who covered the NFL with insight and dedication, died Sunday.

“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,” the network posted on X.

“Mort was widely respected as an industry pioneer and universally beloved as a supportive, hardworking teammate,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement along with the post.

“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,” Pitaro said.

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Mortensen announced in 2016 that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer, according to CBS News.

“This is also where my Christian faith served me well,” he said as he underwent treatment, according to Sports Illustrated. “Because the Bible tells us we will have troubles in this world but we are to cling to the light, the love and promise of God.”

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ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared his thoughts on his colleague’s death.

“An absolutely devastating day. Mort was one of the greatest reporters in sports history, and an even better man. Sincerest condolences to his family, and all who knew and loved him. So many did. Mort was the very best. He will be forever missed and remembered,” he posted.

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, speaking at the end of coverage of the league’s scouting combine on Sunday, said Mortensen had recently texted him asking about Spencer Rattler, the South Carolina quarterback.

“He’s just one of the sweetest souls you will have ever met, and he loved his sport,” Jeremiah said, according to CBS.

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“That’s why when we found out about this, the last thing I want to do is come out here. But, man, he would punch me in the face if we didn’t if we didn’t do this and have fun and enjoy this great game that he loved so much,” he said.

“I admired how hard Chris worked to become one of the most influential and revered reporters in sports. 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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

“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,” Goodell said.

Many others paid tribute to Mortensen on social media.

“Heartbroken,” former NFL star Peyton Manning said in a post on Instagram. “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.”


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Mortensen joined ESPN in 1991 after working for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 1983 to 1990, covering the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Falcons.

In 1987, he won the George Polk Award for a report called “Ignoring the Rules” about college athletes and amateur sports, according to CNN.

“In 2016, he received the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick McCann Award and was honored during the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement ceremony in August that year,” ESPN reported.

Mortensen is survived by his wife, Micki, and son, Alex.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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