Chris Mortensen to return to ESPN after 'encouraging news' in cancer battle

ESPN's Chris Mortensen anticipates resuming NFL coverage this season

ESPN's senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen is on the road to recovery — and heading back to TV screens soon.

After announcing that he had been diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer in January, the on-air veteran shared good news with viewers via an ESPN press statement Wednesday that said, "I received very encouraging news last week from my oncologist team of doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center that now enables me to completely focus on recovery rather than treatment.

"The Stage IV throat (oropharyngel) cancer that was diagnosed in early January and treated with intensive chemotherapy and radiation has been virtually reduced to zero."

After taking leave from work at ESPN in January, Mortensen hopes to be back on air in a limited role during the 2016 season, which officially kicks off on Sept. 8.

"It has been a long and difficult road for Mort since he was diagnosed, so hearing his positive news is very encouraging," Seth Markman, ESPN senior coordinating producer said in the statement.

"As we have said all along, when Mort is able to return, his chair on our set will be waiting. He is a beloved member of our ESPN team and we have really missed him these past few months."

The 64-year-old sportscaster has been with the network since 1991. After growing up in Torrance, California, Mortensen served two years in the Army during the Vietnam War. Then, he worked at several newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he was an investigative reporter and covered the Atlanta Braves, Falcons and the NFL at large.

Mortensen has received 18 awards in journalism over the years and has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes. In 1978, he won the National Headliner Award for Investigative Reporting in all categories.

During his high-profile career at ESPN, Mortensen has reported for the network's Emmy Award-winning programs "NFL GameDay," "NFL Countdown," "Sunday NFL Countdown" and "Outside the Lines." He has also worked as an analyst for ESPN's coverage of the NFL Draft.

See Mort's full message below:

"I received very encouraging news last week from my oncologist team of doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center that now enables me to completely focus on recovery rather than treatment. The Stage IV throat (oropharyngel) cancer that was diagnosed in early January and treated with intensive chemotherapy and radiation has been virtually reduced to zero detection of the disease through the latest scans and exams.

"I do have scheduled exams and scans during the next three months to monitor my status but my oncologists have directed me to recover and rehab from the treatments that have resulted in lengthy hospitalization, significant weight loss, strength, endurance and related health issues. I am following instructions to overcome these challenges.

"My return-to-work status has variables with no definitive target date but I anticipate being able to participate in NFL coverage on a limited basis as the 2016 season gets underway.

"My wife Micki and I want to express our deepest gratitude and humility from the outpouring of love we have received from family, friends, colleagues, the NFL community and beyond, as well as ESPN's unwavering support. Our hope remains rooted in our deep faith in God and we continue to be grateful to our caring team at M.D. Anderson and my local personal physicians.

"We also want to encourage everyone to support various cancer causes such as the V Foundation – we can testify that these specific organizations are justifiably necessary and righteous to families who encounter this insidious disease."

Read original story Chris Mortensen to Return to ESPN After 'Encouraging News' in Cancer Battle At TheWrap

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NFL Power Rankings: Training Camp edition

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NFL Power Rankings - Training Camp

32. Cleveland Browns

2015 record: 3-13

The Browns added Robert Griffin III into the mix to be the primary shotcaller in the post-Johnny Manziel era, and beginning Week 5, Josh Gordon will presumably be back on the field. It's a new era in Cleveland with former baseball exec Paul DePodesta in charge, but it may be a while until they actually bear the fruits of this rebuild.

(Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

31. San Francisco 49ers

2015 record: 5-11

After an unsuccessful run in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly was brought in to help transform the 49ers. Despite efforts to move him, QB Colin Kaepernick could theoretically thrive in Kelly's fast-paced system -- but talent elsewhere is tough to come by.

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

30. Tennessee Titans

2015 record: 3-13

Tennessee added DeMarco Murray to its backfield and drafted OT Jack Conklin to help both Murray and Marcus Mariota, so there should be some improvements -- but the Titans are still ways away from competing.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

29. San Diego Chargers

2015 record: 4-12

The Chargers added Joey Bosa to their defensive corps through the draft, but it will still be hard for them to score -- Melvin Gordon, after a subpar rookie campaign, is recovering from microfracture surgery.

(Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

28. Detroit Lions

2015 record: 7-9

Calvin Johnson is no longer in the mix for Matthew Stafford, which means Golden Tate will need to step up big time if they hope to avoid a huge tail-off in the passing game.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

27. Miami Dolphins

2015 record: 6-10

Adam Gase will have some shiny new toys on both sides of the ball: Arian Foster and Mario Williams were both brought in via free agency, and Laremy Tunsil was drafted in the first round to beef up the offensive line. But Miami won't be able to take the next step until Ryan Tannehill proves he's a legitimate starting NFL quarterback.

(Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

26. New Orleans Saints

2015 record: 7-9

Nick Fairley and Roman Harper have been added to help out a woeful defense, but Drew Brees doesn't have much to work with on his side of the ball.

(Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Verizon)

24. Los Angeles Rams

2015 record: 7-9

A full season of Todd Gurley being the premiere Rams back is intimidating, but banking on first-year quarterback Jared Goff to come out strong right out of the gate may be asking a bit ambitious.

(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2015 record: 6-10

Second-year QB Jameis Winston looks to be in the best shape of his life, and his connection with WR Mike Evans should only strengthen as they gain experience together. Tampa Bay seems to be building an encouraging team.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

18. Jacksonville Jaguars

2015 record: 5-11

The Jags, at times, looked much better than their 5-11 record last year, and could compete for a potential playoff spot this season. With Blake Bortles able to utilize T.J. Yeldon, Denard Robinson, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson on offense -- and with some infusion of young talent on defense -- Jacksonville should be fun to watch.

(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

15. New York Giants

2015 record: 6-10

If NFL games were 50 minutes long instead of 60, last year's Giants would have had one of the best records in the league -- and Tom Coughlin would likely still be the head coach. Bob McAdoo is in charge now, and Victor Cruz could finally make his return to the field this season, flanking Odell Beckham in his third season. The defensive additions of Janoris Jenkins and Olivier Vernon should make an immediate impact.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

14. Dallas Cowboys

2015 record: 4-12

Tony Romo is 36, but a fully healthy season from him could mean the difference between a division title and last year's four-win campaign. Ezekiel Elliott should contribute mightily right away, giving Dallas a great chance in a division that's completely up for grabs.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

10. New York Jets

2015 record: 10-6

The Jets finally got their man in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who enjoyed the most success of his career as a Jet last season. With Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Matt Forte headlining the offense -- while Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Darrelle Revis hold down the other side of the ball -- the Jets could be contenders again after missing out on the playoffs last season despite winning 10 games.

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

9. Minnesota Vikings

2015 record: 11-5

If it weren't for an embarrassing missed field goal, the Vikings would've made it to the second round of the postseason last year. With most of the squad returning, the defense still sturdy and QB Teddy Bridgewater a year more mature, Minnesota should be in contention for the postseason once again.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

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