Chris Mortensen Chris Mortensen — Photo courtesy ESPN Images

It was a shock to hear on Sunday that longtime ESPN NFL insider Chris Mortensen had passed at the age of 72.  Mortensen was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2016, but he continued to break stories, often appearing together with Adam Schefter on Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown. Last year, Mortensen cut back on his appearances. However, he still was reaching out to friends and colleagues including NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah the day before he died.

Tributes came from all over the sports world to Mortensen, but especially from those who had worked with him at ESPN. Mortensen had long been a valued resource at ESPN and the tributes to him on social media from his colleagues, both current and past ESPNers, show his influence at the network.

SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt came out with this heartfelt comment:

Van Pelt with the “Believe them all” about the tributes speaks volumes.

Former SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne also had his thoughts on Mortensen:

Mayne’s description of Mort, saying that “his kindness was unending, exemplified best through his sincere interest in knowing what was going on in our lives…” gives you an idea that there was more to the reporter you saw on NFL Countdown and ESPN’s countless other NFL programs.

Andrea Kremer, whose work spans NFL Films, NBC’s Sunday Night Football, HBO’s Real Sports as well as ESPN, had this to say on Mortensen’s passing:

Kremer mentioned that Mortensen “was a decades-long friend and someone for whom I had total admiration as a professional and love and respect as a wonderful person.”

Hannah Storm’s ESPN tenure had her interacting with Mortensen on numerous occasions on SportsCenter and other shows. She also was sad to hear about Mortensen’s death:

ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder noted how Mortensen guided him during his career.

You could not have been a better friend, role model, or mentor. I love and miss you already…”⁩ You can feel how much Mortensen meant to Werder.

NHL host and SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy added his thoughts:

David Aldridge of The Athletic, who previously covered the NBA for ESPN and TNT, said Mortensen was kind to provide advice on how to provide blanket coverage for one league.

The statement “Chris Mortenson had no reason to know, or care, about me while I was at ESPN. But as I pestered him, more than once, about how he covered an entire league as amazingly well as he did, he was never anything but generous and kind with his time and advice,” shows how much reporters cherished the words they received from Mortensen.

Former Monday Night Countdown host Suzy Kolber had not posted on X since she was laid off from ESPN last June, but she came back on Sunday to talk about Mortensen.

Kolber noted, “RIP my dear dear friend. Longtime TV partner and confidant. One of the very few people on earth I could trust with anything.”

Keith Olbermann shared one anecdote about Mortensen:

And Adam Schefter posted a video that included NFL Countdown colleges Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Kolber, and Schefter himself from the moment when Mortensen received the Dick McCann Award to go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016:

James Andrew Miller, the co-author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, talked with Mortensen for the book. He told Awful Announcing, “Chris was a pioneer — helping usher both ESPN and the NFL into the modern era. And somehow, he did it without jealousy of others, and with tons of support for colleagues and friends. The sports world was a much better place with him in it.”

And this tweet sums up the passing of Mortensen and others:

It truly is the end of an era with the passing of Chris Mortensen.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.