Senior NFL Insider
Chris Mortensen is an award-winning journalist and one of the most respected and accomplished reporters covering the National Football League today. A senior NFL Insider, Mortensen joined ESPN in 1991. He appears on Sunday NFL Countdown, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and other programs. Mortensen also contributes to ESPN’s annual Super Bowl week and NFL Draft coverage, and his work regularly appears on ESPN.com.
Mortensen, who was honored by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) with the prestigious Dick McCann Award for his long and distinguished contribution to pro football in 2016, has covered every Super Bowl since 1985 with the exception of Super Bowl 50 when he was forced to take a leave of absence after being diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer. Even while undergoing treatment, Mortensen broke one of the biggest news stories of the NFL offseason when his report in March 2016 confirmed that future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning would retire after 18 NFL seasons.
For years, Mortensen has played an integral role in ESPN’s year-round NFL coverage, often taking many forms. In the summer of 2009, he embarked on one of his most unique assignments – “Mort Goes to Camp,” a bus tour with visits to 21 NFL training camps in 24 days, including daily appearances on ESPN Radio and TV programs. A year later, Mortensen and his colleague Adam Schefter departed on separate cross-country road trips that took the duo to all 32 NFL training camps in 19 days, logging more than 15,000 miles combined.
Previously, Mortensen served as the NFL columnist for The Sporting News and he was a contributing writer for Sport magazine. He covered the NFL as a reporter/columnist for The National sports daily (1989-90), where he was one of the first writers hired by editor Frank Deford. He also worked as a consultant with CBS Sports’ NFL Today in 1990.
Mortensen worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 1983-89 where he filed investigative reports and covered the Braves (1983-85), Falcons (1985-86) and the NFL nationally (1987-89).
Mortensen was honored with the coveted George Polk Award in 1987 for his reporting. He remained the lone sportswriter to receive the award since Red Smith in 1951 until Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams of the San Francisco Chronicle were recognized with the Polk in 2005 for their coverage of the Balco case. Since starting his career with the South Bay (Calif.) Daily Breeze in 1969, Mortensen has received 18 awards in journalism and he has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes. In 1978 he won the National Headliner Award for Investigative Reporting in all categories.
A native of Torrance, Calif., Mortensen attended El Camino College, and then served two years in the Army during the Vietnam Era before he was honorably discharged. He is the author of Playing for Keeps: How One Man Stopped the Mob from Sinking its Hooks into Pro Football.
In October 2016, the NFL Players Association recognized him with the NFLPA Georgetown Lombardi Award for his contributions to pro football and his courageous battle against cancer.
Mortensen’s son, Alex, a former collegiate quarterback at the University of Arkansas, is an offensive assistant for the College Football Playoff National Champion Alabama football team under Nick Saban.