Todd Christensen, a former NFL player and television commentator, died during liver-transplant surgery Wednesday morning in Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Christensen was 57 and had suffered from liver disease and other ailments, the Tribune said. His son, Toby, confirmed his father’s death at Intermountain Medical Center near his home in Alpine, Utah. “I’ve been receiving hundreds of texts, Facebook postings and e-mails — from everybody with a story about my dad,” Toby Christensen told the Associated Press.
Christensen, who starred as a running back at BYU, was taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 1978 draft but spent all but one game of his 10-year career with the Raiders. Owner Al Davis converted him to tight end and he was a member of two Super Bowl-winning Raiders teams, finishing his career with 461 receptions for 5,872 yards and 41 touchdowns.
“He had the ability to catch the ball downfield, and Al [Davis] loved that,” former Raiders coach Tom Flores told the San Jose Mercury News. “So, he became a big part of our passing game and that’s what made him such a threat and so valuable.”
Christensen retired after the 1988 season and worked for NBC and the old Mountain West Sports Network. He also guest-starred on “Married with Children” and was an “American Gladiators” host.