ESPN personality Chris Mortensen during the 2006 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports © Copyright Howard Smith

Chris Mortensen, whose NFL reporting was a mainstay of ESPN for over thirty years, has passed away at the age of 72.

ESPN announced Mortensen’s passing on Sunday.

“Mort was widely respected as an industry pioneer and universally beloved as a supportive, hard-working teammate. He covered the NFL with extraordinary skill and passion, and was at the top of his field for decades,” said ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro in a statement. “He will truly be missed by colleagues and fans, and our hearts and thoughts are with his loved ones.”

The award-winning journalist started with ESPN in 1991 and made regular appearances across their networks and programs, including Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday NFL Countdown, SportsCenter, Outside The Lines, and NFL GameDay. He also served as an analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the NFL draft.

In 2016, Mortensen announced that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer and took a leave of absence from ESPN (though still made sure to break some news while out). He officially retired from ESPN in September 2023 to focus the majority of his time on his “health, family, and faith.” He received tons of tributes at the time from his peers and others inspired by his work.

Before coming to ESPN, Mort covered the NFL for The National and covered local sports for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

As news of Mortensen’s passing spread, media members at ESPN and beyond began to share their tributes and remembrances on him.


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to