Award-winning ESPN NFL reporter Chris Mortensen dies at 72 after battle with cancer

Chris Mortensen, an award-winning journalist who reported on the NFL for ESPN for more than three decades, died Sunday morning at the age of 72, his family announced Sunday.

Mortensen joined ESPN in 1991 and was a regular contributor to the network’s NFL shows and “SportsCenter.” He was a regular news breaker for ESPN, including the news in 2016 that Peyton Manning was retiring from the NFL.

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.

“Mort was widely respected as an industry pioneer and universally beloved as a supportive, hard-working teammate,” Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN, 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.”

Chris Mortensen, who began covering the NFL for ESPN in 1991, won several awards in his career, including the prestigious Dick McCann Award from the Pro Football Writers of America in 2016. Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images

ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a longtime colleague of Mortensen’s on ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” said on social media: “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.”

Mortensen, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer in January 2016, stepped away from his role at ESPN last year “to focus on my health, family and faith.”

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