Former Oakland Raiders tight end Todd Christensen passed away at the young age of 57 Wednesday morning, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.
The five-time Pro Bowler, who played for the New York Giants and Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders for 10 seasons in the NFL from 1979-88, had been suffering from liver disease, among other diseases, over recent years and died of complications from surgery.
A former BYU standout, the tight end was drafted in the second round of the 1978 draft by the Dallas Cowboys and ended up spending his rookie season on the injured reserve after breaking his foot prior to the start of the regular season. Due to conflict with the team (wanted to move to tight end), the Cowboys waived him following training camp in 1979. The New York Giants claimed Christensen off waivers, but he was on the roster for just two weeks prior to being released from the team.
He was then signed by the then-Oakland Raiders and ended up winning the Super Bowl the following year, his first full season with the team. Over his career, Christensen caught 461 passes for 5,872 yards and 41 touchdowns at the TE position. Not bad for a time when tight ends really didn’t play as huge an impact on the passing game as they do in today’s game.
He set, and then re-set, the NFL record for most catches by a tight end (92 and 95), and was one of the best pass-catching tight ends of his era.
After hanging up his cleats at the end of the ’88 season, the two-time Super Bowl champ tried out for both the Oakland Athletics and Anaheim Angels baseball team. He, of course, didn’t make either squads, but he ended up setting a few age-group records in track and field. I guess you could say he was a pretty decent all-around athlete.
Christensen finally ended up in the broadcast booth, joining the MountainWest Sports Network and working there until just last year. He also worked for the CBS Sports Network, and was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame (he went to high school in Eugene, Oregon).
There’s a reason why his nickname was “The Renaissance Man.”