Former football legend and sports broadcaster Todd Christensen has died at the age of 57, reports KSL.com. in Utah. The former host of American Gladiators was a sports legend in Utah where he played college football with Brigham Young University. He then moved on to a hugely successful pro-career and his most famous for his time with the Raiders.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Christensen Died on the Operating Table
Christensen passed away due surgery complications at the Intermountain Medical Center in Alpine, Utah, on November 13, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. He had publicly battled liver disease and other illnesses over the last 10 years. The Associated Press reports that he died while undergoing a liver transplant. He had been awaiting a transplant since 2012.
He claimed in 2010, that his recovery from liver disease was down to alternative methods. His sister-in-law’s daughter had suffered with lyme disease, to the extent where she could no longer walk, Christensen had noticed how her condition had improved due to alternative medicine. Two supplements that he used were called “Coral Calcium” and “Silver Solution.” These, in addition to diet modification, helped him combat his liver disease. He said of it:
When I took my blood tests for my liver diagnostics as well as the LDL’s, HDL’s and those things of a lipid nature, with the exception of one category, EVERYTHING WAS NORMAL! At that point in time, that was not something that should have come to fruition, but it did.
I could certainly encourage anyone who is debating as to whether this is a legitimate product, simply based on what has happened to me over the last 5 months, I would certainly have to give it a stamp of approval.
Christensen, in the same interview, claimed he now (in 2010) felt as strong as he had when he played in the NFL. The Associated Press reports that Christensen was a Mormon who did not drink alcohol. It’s believed that his health problems originated from a botched gall bladder operation 25 years ago.
2. BYU, His Alma-Mater, Announced His Death
His death was announced by by Brigham Young University where he played from 1974-77. While at BYU, he caught 152 passes for 1,568 yards in addition to 15 touchdowns.
Thoughts and prayers to the family of BYU football great Todd Christensen, who passed away today. pic.twitter.com/Ciiwi1KRMZ
— BYU (@BYU) November 13, 2013
Former #BYU TE Todd Christensen passed away this morning due to complications from surgery. Our love & prayers are w/the Christensen family.
— BYU Cougars (@BYUcougars) November 13, 2013
In recognition of his achievements he was selected as an all-Western Athletic Conference pick in his final year at BYU, 1977 and in 1992 he was inducted into the BYU Athletics Hall of Fame.
3. He Was a 2-Time Super Bowl Winner
He had a hugely successful pro-career with the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders, making the Pro Bowl five times and won the Super Bowl twice with the Raiders in 1981 and 84.
The Pennsylvania native was first drafted in the second round by Dallas in 1978, but never made an appearance after breaking his foot in a pre-season game. After refusing a position change, he was released and got snapped up by the New York Giants. His time in the big apple wasn’t much better, playing just one game before being cut.
It was only when he came to the Raiders in 1979 that his career really took off. In 1982, he caught 42 passes for 510 yards and scored four touchdowns. Then in 1983, he had his best pro-season, catching 92 passes for 1,247 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns. According to The Salt Lake Tribune:
His 349 catches from 1983-86 set at NFL record.
4. After Retirement He Had Stint on American Gladiators
Since retiring from the gridiron, he moved into the broadcast booth working for both NBC and CBS, including a hosting stint on American Gladiators. He also appeared in an episode of Married With Children in 1994. He was also one of the hosts of NFL on NBC from 1990-94. Not to mention a stint as college football analyst with the MountainWest Sports Network until the network closed in 2012.
5. His Football Skills Ran in the Family
His son, Toby, was standout player for Brigham Young as well. Todd Christensen called one of his son’s games, and lost his journalistic objectivity quite spectacularly:
Christensen was a native of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. At the age of 5 his family relocated to Eugene, Oregon. He had another son, Teren, who is paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida.
He was track and football star in his youth, he graduated from Sheldon High School in Eugene, Oregon. Then he went on to play for BYU in Utah, he graduated from the school in 1977 with a degree in social work. The Associated Press reports that Christensen’s family had been planning his funeral since Saturday, with a local Mormon church in Alpine, Utah, being chosen for his memorial. He is survived by his wife and four sons.