Sadly, football lost one of its great characters Wednesday when Todd Christensen passed away from complications of liver disease at 57 years old.
Christensen had plenty of professional football exploits to be proud of. He was a leader on two Oakland Raiders Super Bowl winning teams and made five Pro Bowls playing tight end.
As a BYU product, his personality off the field didn’t quite match up to the reputation of the school. Christensen and Jim McMahon are in their own category as BYU grads who didn’t fit the school’s typical profile.
After making his way to Los Angeles via the Raiders – who he was with during their move from Oakland – Christensen was a natural to become a broadcaster. He was a successful one. He was a part of nationally televised NFL games and was a frequent host of the show American Gladiators.
It was during those years that I remember Christensen making his mark in a memorable way while on Up Close with host Roy Firestone. The show was on ESPN and was one of the biggest shows in sports television at the time.
Firestone asked Christensen what was the craziest thing he ever saw in the locker room. Christensen said that he saw a lineman once sitting on the toilet eating a sandwich. Firestone was a little taken back by this and he said, “you’re kidding.” Christensen said, “In one orifice, out another.” That made Firestone laugh with embarrassment.
Christensen was like that. He was genuinely funny, a little outrageous and intelligent.
Here is a great clip of Christensen about how ridiculous he feels the NFL Draft is (I love the “whoop” reaction at the end by his colleague, which is absolutely the right reaction). I learned several new vocabulary words from this rant, thanks Todd.
He was loquacious and unique.
Christensen excelled in athletics, including baseball, and continued to participate competitively after he retired from football. He also won national track and field events for his age group.
Sports lost a great one Wednesday for sure. He was cut from a different cloth.