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The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Iconic ESPN anchor Chris Mortensen passes away at 72

Chris Mortensen is most famous for his time as a NFL reporter as well as his tenure on SportsCenter.

Chris Mortensen, an award winning reporter for ESPN died at the age of 72 on Sunday morning, Mar. 3. Mortensen reported for the National Football League (NFL) for more than three decades. 

Mortensen or, as his friends and colleagues liked to call him, “Mort,” joined the ESPN crew in 1991 and became a loyal contributor to many of the NFL shows on the network as well as ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” 

Many of you, including myself, grew up tuning into his spot on takes for various sports early in the morning before school. Mortensen implemented himself into our day-to-day lives without realizing just how many people he touched on a daily basis. 

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

That very same year he won the prestigious Dick McCann Award from the Pro Football Writers of America. The award commends those who have made a long-lasting impact and distinguished contribution to professional football through their coverage. Mortensen also received two Pulitzer Prize nominations in 2016. 

In August of that same year he was honored during the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. 

As reported on ESPN, Adam Schefter, longtime friend and colleague of Mortensen 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.” 

Hall of Fame quarterback and friend of Mortensen, Peyton Manning, also took to social media when hearing of the news of his death saying that he was “heartbroken.” 

As reported by ESPN, Manning said, “We lost a true legend.” Manning continued in his post stating, “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.” 

Though Mortensen is no longer with us, his legacy will last forever. There are thousands of clips on the internet of Mortensen breaking down the best of the NFL, articles online from his

prestigious career and a published book he wrote titled, “Playing for Keeps: How One Man Stopped the Mob from Sinking its Hooks into Pro Football.” 

He is survived by his wife, Micki, and son, Alex, and all of those that he touched during his time with ESPN.

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