Remembering Chris Mortensen: A Legend in Sports Journalism

Remembering Chris Mortensen: A Legend in Sports Journalism

Chris Mortensen, a distinguished journalist known for his coverage of the NFL for ESPN over a span of more than three decades, passed away at the age of 72 on Sunday. Mortensen was an integral part of ESPN, where he made significant contributions to the network’s NFL shows and “SportsCenter.” His legacy includes breaking major news stories, such as quarterback Peyton Manning’s retirement announcement in 2016. Throughout his career, Mortensen garnered accolades and recognition for his outstanding work in sports journalism.

Colleagues and friends of Chris Mortensen expressed their profound grief and admiration for his work. Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN, commended Mortensen as an industry innovator and a supportive teammate who showcased extraordinary skill and passion in covering the NFL. Likewise, Adam Schefter, Mortensen’s longtime colleague on ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” lauded him as one of the greatest reporters in sports history and a remarkable individual.

Mortensen’s impact on sports journalism extended beyond his contributions at ESPN. Before joining the network, he worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he received the George Polk Award for his reporting. His dedication to investigative journalism and attention to detail were recognized through numerous awards and nominations, including winning the National Headliner Award and being nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes.

Chris Mortensen’s influence in the realm of sports journalism was profound, as evidenced by the heartfelt tributes from figures such as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, quarterback Peyton Manning, and Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Goodell praised Mortensen for his relentless pursuit of news and kindness towards others, while Manning honored their friendship and mutual respect throughout the years. Blank remembered Mortensen as a personal hero known for his professional excellence and personal grace.

In addition to his remarkable professional achievements, Mortensen’s personal journey exemplified resilience and determination. From his early days at the South Bay Daily Breeze to his tenure at ESPN, Mortensen’s commitment to excellence and integrity set a high standard in sports journalism. His book, “Playing for Keeps: How One Man Stopped the Mob from Sinking its Hooks into Pro Football,” demonstrated his investigative prowess and dedication to uncovering the truth.

As the sports journalism community mourns the loss of Chris Mortensen, we remember him as a trailblazer, mentor, and friend. His impact will continue to resonate through the stories he told, the lives he touched, and the legacy he leaves behind. Mortensen’s enduring influence serves as a testament to the power of journalistic integrity, compassion, and dedication. He will be deeply missed, but his spirit will live on in the hearts and minds of all those who had the privilege of knowing him.


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