ESPN’s Chris Mortensen taking leave to battle throat cancer

NFL reporter Chris Mortensen has been at ESPN since 1991.

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ESPN announced Friday that senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen will be off the air as he begins his battle with throat cancer.

The 64-year-old Mortensen, one of ESPN’s most recognizable names and faces after 25 years there, released a statement through the network:

"More than a week ago, I was diagnosed with a Stage IV throat cancer. 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."

ESPN President John Skipper said in a statement that Mortensen has "the complete support of his entire ESPN family" and that the network looks "forward to his return whenever he chooses." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.