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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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ESPN’s Original NFL Insider Chris Mortensen Retires 

  • After 31 seasons covering the NFL for ESPN, Mortensen announces his retirement.
  • Mortensen was diagnosed with cancer in 2016.
Chris Mortensen
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Chris Mortensen unexpectedly announced his retirement from ESPN, a decision the longtime NFL insider said he made months ago. 

“It’s time to reveal after my 33rd NFL draft in April, I made a decision to step away from ESPN and focus on my health, family and faith,” Mortensen wrote on social media Tuesday. “The gratitude and humility is overwhelming. It’s not a classic retirement. I’ll still be here talking ball. It’s just time. God Bless you all.”

Mortensen, 71, has worked at ESPN since 1991 and was a staple on various NFL-centric programs for decades. Mortensen isn’t expected to appear on any of the network’s platforms this season, a source told Front Office Sports. 

Over the decades, the pioneering Mortensen paved the way for influential NFL Insiders such as ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Fox Sports Jay Glazer, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson.

“Best of the best,” ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “What an honor it’s been to spend time with Mort and learn from him. A true titan in this industry and an inspiration in every aspect of his remarkable life and career.”

Mortensen was diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer in early 2016. In an August 2016 statement, Mortensen said he underwent “intensive chemotherapy and radiation.”

His cancer diagnosis and the fight against it forced him to miss Super Bowl 50 in February 2016 — the only Super Bowl Mortensen hasn’t covered since 1985, according to ESPN. 

Before arriving at ESPN, Mortensen was one of the first writers hired at The National, a daily sports tabloid that — despite having some of the most talented reporters at the time — lasted all of 18 months before it ceased operation in 1991. 

Mortensen served two years in the Army during the Vietnam War. He began his reporting career at the Daily Breeze in 1969, his hometown paper in Torrance, Calif.  

Mortensen won 18 journalism awards — and was nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes — during a career that included stints at the the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Sporting News and as a consultant at CBS Sports’ NFL Today.

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