Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen on ESPN's 2019 NFL Draft coverage. Nashville, TN – April 25, 2019: Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen during the 2019 NFL Draft. (Photo by Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

From Adam Schefter’s move from NFL Network to ESPN in 2009 through Chris Mortensen’s 2023 retirement from that network, the two were often linked. Many wondered at first how having two high-profile insiders in the same sport would work out for the network, given how that often hasn’t gone well, but it seemed to produce a fruitful partnership for ESPN.

Mortensen and Schefter each took their own approaches, and they each broke some news separately. But they also produced countless co-bylined stories, appeared together on much of ESPN’s NFL programming, and seemed to have a great deal of respect for each other. So that made Schefter a very fitting choice to voice ESPN’s video tribute to Mortensen after his passing Sunday. And there are lots of notable elements in that video:

Schefter starts that with “It’s easier to ask someone about dying once he has broken free of its grasp, as my mentor, my friend, and my on-air partner Chris Mortensen once did. After Mort was diagnosed with stage four throat cancer in 2015 before fending it off in 2017, he was asked what he would think and what would go through his mind if he knew he were dying, as he almost did. Mort said he would think about all of his incredible life experiences, how blessed he has been, even with the heartbreaks along the way. He also added he would be sad to say goodbye to the people he loved, but he would be going to a place of glory.”

That piece aptly covers Mortensen’s life and remarkable career. That includes previous journalism work for The Daily Breeze in his hometown of Torrance, California, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The National before he joined ESPN in 1991. He’d go on to be a key part of their NFL coverage until his 2023 retirement, with famed NFL producer Fred Gaudelli (long of NBC and still the executive producer of Sunday Night Football, now also Amazon’s executive producer for Thursday Night Football) saying in that piece that Mortensen should be on ESPN’s Mount Rushmore. What Schefter has to say about Mortensen’s reporting there (3:34) is perhaps particularly notable:

“Through the years, Mort remained ESPN’s reporting conscience, its most senior and trusted voice. He had seen so much, knew so many, and had established himself not only as one of the greatest football reporters in history, but as one of the greatest sports reporters in history. It is just one reason why so many turned to him for guidance on stories that mattered, because he did.”

The whole piece is a thoughtful tribute to Mortensen’s life and career. There have been many testimonies to Mortensen’s impact from ESPN colleagues and others since his passing, but it’s notable to see Schefter voice this in-depth salute to his long-time colleague.

Update: Long-time NFL on ESPN executive Seth Markman (currently the network’s vice-president, production) had an amazing line from Mortensen to share about his response when Markman brought up the idea of bringing in Schefter:

“If we can get Adam, get him. Less of me is actually a good thing!” is an amazing line. And that’s one that really helps illustrate how unique Mortensen was.

[Adam Schefter on Twitter/X]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.