NFL insider, 'Jesus follower' Chris Mortensen dies, believed 'trust is to be in the Lord only'

Chris Mortensen, one of best and most respected reporters in NFL history, passed away Sunday morning at the age of 72. Though he had been enduring an eight-year battle with throat cancer, there was no immediate word on the cause or place of death, according to the Associated Press. He is survived by his wife, Micki, and son, Alex.

The man affectionately known as “Mort” joined ESPN in 1991 and covered the NFL on various shows, regularly breaking the biggest news in the league. He won 18 awards in journalism and was nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes during his distinguished career. His most notable honors came in 2016, when he received the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick McCann Award and was honored during that year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement ceremony.

Mortensen’s impact on the sports world far transcended his excellence as a reporter. Tributes to Mortensen came pouring in on social media following the news of his death.


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“An absolutely devastating day,” friend and colleague Adam Schefter wrote in a post on X. “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.”

Before ESPN, Mortensen got his start in the NFL by reporting on the Atlanta Falcons. The team’s owner, Arthur Blank, said in a statement, according to ESPN, that Mort’s “ability to take on life’s obstacles with grit and determination was always truly inspiring and his enormous impact on so many, me included, will live on through this work and unwavering friendships.

“… I send my deepest condolences to Chris’ family and friends, and pray they find peace in the honorable legacy and positive influence that Chris leaves behind.”

Mortensen was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer in January 2016, but he returned the following January and continued his work until last year, at which time he stated he wanted to “focus on my health, family and faith.” All who knew him well knew how important his faith in Christ was to him. In fact, the first words in his bio on X read, “Jesus follower. Matthew 22:36-40.”

Mortensen appeared on the Sports Spectrum Podcast to discuss his faith twice during his career, once in February 2019 and once in May 2021.

“Our faith and trust is to be in the Lord and the Lord only,” Mortensen said in 2021. “It’s not in man, because man will let us down. The flesh lets us down. We all know that. That’s why the Lord sends a Savior.”

Later, he attributed the grace with which he handled his cancer diagnosis and treatment to his relationship with God.

“We know we’re gonna have trials and tribulations in life; it’s in the Bible,” Mortensen said. “We know there’s going to be many discouraging times, and we’re gonna be put to the test. And that’s gonna be from start to finish.

“… I’ve had low moments, certainly low moments. And I’ve had to say, ‘I just give up, Lord. You take it. All these six things right now are overwhelming me. You take it. I can’t handle it.’ And you know what? He does.”

Mortensen was always one to encourage other believers in faith: players like Reggie White, coaches like Tony Dungy, and even fellow reporters like Daniel Jeremiah. Seeing others come to faith was a joy for Mortensen, and it’s something he pleaded even with the podcast listeners to consider.

“I always tell people, ‘You know, if you had one question in life that you should ask and then try to answer, it’s, “Is there a god?”‘ And then I would say, ‘And what does that mean? Is Jesus who He said He was? And what does that mean?’

“I would encourage anybody to call timeout,” he said. “Ask the question, you seek the answer earnestly, and see where it takes you.”

Mort is now with his Heavenly Father. He leaves this world with a lifetime of some of the best reporting the NFL has ever seen. More importantly, he leaves this world with an open offer to everyone who will hear: Who will be Lord of your life?

>> Do you know Christ personally? Learn how you can commit your life to Him. <<

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