ESPN's Mortensen gets PFWA's highest honor

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is this year’s recipient of the Dick McCann Award, the highest honor given by the Professional Football Writers of America.

He will be honored at the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony on Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio. Mortensen is the 48th recipient of the award.

“There is not a single person in our industry who is more deserving of any single award than Mort is for the McCann Award,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said. “It’s based on long and distinguished reporting in professional football, and there’s nobody who has done it longer or in a more distinguished way than Mort. As good of a reporter as he is, he’s a better man, teammate and friend, and the only thing that will give me more joy than seeing him get this award will be getting to work with him again this fall.”

Mortensen has been with ESPN for 26 years and has covered the NFL for 32 years at several stops.

He started at the South Bay (California) Daily Breeze in 1969, went on to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the National and then to ESPN in 1991. During his tenure at ESPN, he has worked on a variety of NFL studio shows, including SportsCenter and Sunday NFL Countdown, as well as writing for and appearing on ESPN Radio.

Mortensen was diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer in 2015 and missed his first Super Bowl since 1979.

He previously earned the George Polk Award in 1987, making him one of four sportswriters to be awarded that honor. He’s also been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes.

“Chris is one of our profession’s greatest treasures,” ESPN’s John Clayton said. “As a reporter, he is masterful. Like Will McDonough did, Chris shows that accurate information can educate a fan base. Plus, in every segment, he provides the right information that keeps football fans in the know on what is happening in a rapidly changing sport.”

The award is named for Dick McCann, who was the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s first director (1962-67). He was a reporter in New York and Washington before joining the Washington Redskins in 1947 as the team’s publicist. He later was the team’s general manager, remaining with the franchise until 1962 when he became the Hall of Fame’s director.

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