Chris Mortensen, ESPN’s Longtime N.F.L. Insider, Dies at 72

Chris Mortensen, an award-winning sportswriter who in 1991 moved to ESPN, where he pioneered the role of the N.F.L. insider — reporting for various programs on trades, free agent signings, injuries, retirements and scandals, died on Sunday. He was 72.

His death was announced by ESPN, which did not give a cause or say where he died. In 2016, he underwent treatment for stage four throat cancer.

Until he stepped away from the network last year, Mort, as he was known, dispensed news on programs like “SportsCenter,” “Sunday N.F.L. Countdown” and “Monday N.F.L. Countdown,” as well as on radio and X, formerly known as Twitter.

He was not sports journalism’s first N.F.L. insider. Will McDonough probably had that distinction, writing for The Boston Globe and for CBS’s and NBC’s N.F.L. pregame shows. Mr. Mortensen was followed by a raft of rivals: Peter King, at Sports Illustrated and then NBC; Jay Glazer, at Fox Sports; Mike Florio, at Pro Football Talk; and Adam Schefter, at the NFL Network, who became Mr. Mortensen’s partner at ESPN in reporting league news.

In 1988, as a sportswriter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mr. Mortensen won a George Polk Award, one of journalism’s top prizes, for investigative work, becoming the first sportswriter to do so since Red Smith receive that honor in 1951.

In 2016, he received the Dick McCann (now Bill Nunn Jr.) Award from the Professional Football Writers of America for distinguished coverage of the game. He received the award at the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony.

A full obituary will appear soon.

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