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Chris Mortensen, longtime NFL insider for ESPN, dies at 72

By Robert Ilich, CNN

(CNN) — Chris Mortensen, an award-winning journalist and longtime NFL insider for ESPN, has died, the network announced. He was 72.

Mortensen was a fixture on ESPN for three decades, appearing on “Sunday NFL Countdown,” an analyst for the NFL Draft and as a contributor on “SportsCenter.”

“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. He will truly be missed by colleagues and fans, and our hearts and thoughts are with his loved ones,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement.

Mortensen joined ESPN in 1991 and quickly gained a reputation for being one of the most trusted football insiders. He previously worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he covered the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Falcons from 1983 to 1990. During his tenure at the newspaper, he won the 1987 George Polk Award for a 110-page piece called “Ignoring the Rules” about amateur sports and college athletes.

He announced in January 2016 he was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer. Mortensen later returned to ESPN after announcing his cancer treatments were successful.

In September 2023, Mortensen said he would step away from his role at ESPN “to focus on my health, family and faith.”

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