Former All-Pro Oakland Raiders tight end Todd Christensen has died at the age of 57 according to Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune.. Christensen had battled liver disease along with other ailments and reportedly died of complications from surgery.
Ironically Christensen, who twice led the NFL in receptions, never wanted to play the tight end position. He was a star running back at Brigham Young University before being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 1978 draft. Christensen played fullback during his first preseason but broke his foot and missed his rookie season. When he came back to Dallas the following spring, he balked when the coaching staff informed him they were switching him to tight end and ended up getting cut by the Cowboys. He was signrd by the New York Giants but again refused to play tight end and was again cut quickly.
Somehow the Raiders were able to change his mind and he thrived at the position, becoming one of if not the best tight ends of his era. In 1983 led the league in receptions with 92 while making the first of his five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. He would lead the league in receptions again in 1986, with 95, and he won two Super Bowl rings during his time with the Raiders. Christensen was went on to forge a post-football career as an NFL analyst for NBC. He was known most recently for his work as a college football analyst on the MountainWest Sports Network, a position he held until the network shut down in 2012.