Todd Christensen, a tight end who twice led the NFL in receptions, has died at the age of 57.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Christensen, who had battled liver disease and other illnesses, died this morning in a Utah hospital. Brigham Young University, where Christensen was a star running back, announced that he had died of complications from surgery.
A second-round pick of the Cowboys in the 1978 NFL draft, Christensen played well as a fullback in his first preseason before suffering a broken foot and missing his rookie season. In his second season, the Cowboys told him he was switching from fullback to tight end, he balked, and the team cut him. He was picked up by the Giants but was unhappy there as well, still didn’t want to play tight end, and was quickly cut again.
But the Raiders were able to persuade him that tight end was the position he was best suited for, and he thrived. In 1982 he began to emerge as one of the best tight ends in football, and 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.