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Chris Mortensen takes leave from on-air role at ESPN after throat cancer diagnosis

Chris Mortensen of ESPN was involved in a major aspect of the "Deflategate" story. Via ESPN

Longtime NFL reporter Chris Mortensen will not appear on the air on ESPN for an undetermined time while he receives treatment for throat cancer.

“More than a week ago, I was diagnosed with a Stage IV throat cancer,’’ Mortensen said in a statement released by ESPN Friday afternoon. “My focus shifted significantly to gathering information about the specifics of this cancer. The initial diagnosis was confirmed Friday and there is another test remaining that will determine the best possible treatment plan that will commence in the very immediate future.

“Consequently, with the support and encouragement from ESPN president John Skipper and many others at ESPN, I am temporarily stepping away from my normal NFL coverage duties to better engage this opportunity to fight the good fight that is projected to affect almost 1.7 million Americans with new cases in 2016.

“I have many inspirational examples of men, women and children who have faced this very fight. We all know somebody, right? I also have the love and prayers of my wife Micki, my family, my friends, colleagues and, most of all, my faith that serve as sources of tremendous strength. I have a peace about this and look forward to the battle.’’

Mortensen, 64, joined ESPN in 1991 after working at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The National. He won the George Polk Award for reporting in 1987.

“Our thoughts are with Chris and his family as he faces this challenge,’’ said ESPN president John Skipper. “He is an extremely respected colleague, who has the complete support of his entire ESPN family. We wish him strength and hope in the battle ahead and look forward to his return whenever he chooses.’’

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