NFL reporter Chris Mortensen steps away from ESPN after more than three decades, cites health and family

Longtime NFL broadcaster and journalist Chris Mortensen announced he stepped away from his role with ESPN earlier this year.

Mortensen had been with ESPN for more than three decades. He has battled esophageal cancer since 2016 and decided to leave his longtime job in April, shortly after the 2023 NFL Draft.

Mortensen cited the need to prioritize his health and his family when he shared his decision in a social media post Tuesday.

“Excited about another season but 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 in a post on X, formerly Twitter.


Mortensen was ESPN’s original NFL “insider.” Throughout his 33-year career at ESPN, Mortensen frequently appeared on a variety of the network’s programs, including “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “SportsCenter.” 


The California native’s career began in 1969, when he joined the South Bay Daily Breeze newspaper in Hermosa Beach, California.

“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 wrote in a social media post.

Mortensen is credited with helping pioneer the job of a sports news breaker who had the ability to bring reporting and analysis to a variety of shows and platforms. He helped pave the way for the network’s other well-known insiders, like Adam Schefter.

Ed Werder, who worked with Mortensen at ESPN for years, took to social media and said he will miss getting advice from his fellow veteran reporter.

“All will miss your presence, your humor and your incredibly detailed reporting,” Werder wrote. “Few will miss you more than I will for your advice, wisdom and friendship. Nobody has meant more to me than you.”

He later posted a photo on X, writing, “I could not love or respect @mortreport more. I’m so grateful for his presence in my career and life. He’s made both infinitely better.”

Mortensen was notably absent from Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in 2016. He announced his cancer diagnosis a few weeks prior to the game in Santa Clara, California.

Mortensen decided to continue to contribute to ESPN as he underwent medical treatment.

His son, Alex, played college football at Arkansas and Samford and currently serves as the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Mortensen’s reporting won him several awards, including the National Headliner Award for Investigative Reporting, which he won in 1978.

In 2016, Mortensen received the prestigious Professional Football Writers of America’s Dick McCann Award.

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