John Saunders Dead

ESPN's John Saunders Dead at 61

Longtime ESPN host John Saunders has died unexpectedly, the network confirmed on Tuesday. He was 61.

“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades,” said John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, in a statement. “His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

“He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed,” Skipper continued. “Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”

Saunders joined ESPN in December 1986 as a SportsCenter anchor. His primary play-by-play beats included college football, basketball and the NH. He was also host of The Sports Reporters.

Saunders’ colleague Chris Mortensen expressed his sorrow on Twitter early Wednesday, writing, “The news of John Saunders’ death could not be more crushing. We all loved him dearly. We grieve. We will miss him. Can’t replace the man.”

ESPN’s Adam Scheffer, meanwhile, said he was “sickened and saddened” by the news.


Saunders is survived by wife Wanda and daughters Aleah and Jenna.

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  1. Leigh says:

    This is sad. May he rest in peace and his family find comfort at this difficult time.

  2. Luis says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this. John was one of my favorite ESPN anchors.

  3. walter spaeth says:

    Another titan of the sporting world is lost to all. I will miss his professionalism,
    insight, and integrity. God bless his family. God speed, John

  4. dan says:

    Very sad. He was one of ESPN’s best. Likeable, knowledgeable, humble and enjoyable to watch. RIP John Saunders.

  5. J.Norman says:

    He seemed to be missing several times in the past year or so (i.e. beyond normal vacation) so I wondered sometimes how his health may have been.

    But I didn’t think it was this bad. He looked OK on air.

  6. KLS says:

    Shocking! Another of the old guard sports reporters/anchors is gone. He will be missed.

  7. Jeff says:

    How terribly sad. May he rest in peace and be held in divine love.

  8. kate says:

    That’s so sad, I will miss him especially on that odd Sunday night quick recap show they sometimes do where Boomer and T.J. are being obnoxious and non sensical and he comes in with his intelligent snark and you realize, wow, someone knows something there.

  9. BetsyBoo says:

    Noooo! Met him many many years ago in Bristol and he was great! I am so saddened to hear this.

  10. My condolences to his family, friends, fans and co-workers. What a wonderful, kind, bighearted soul. He will be missed.

  11. mario says:

    RIP John Saunders…..Your honest, topical approach to sports reporting will be missed

  12. Doug Henning says:

    They should just cancel Sports Reporters now.. He was the host and when he wasn’t there, it was a lesser show. I watched it mostly for him.

  13. Otis says:

    I always enjoyed listening to John Saunders, even if I didn’t agree with his position. To me, he always seemed to present things in an intellectually honest way and didn’t seem to say things just to “get a rise” out of his audience.

    Once criticism of this article I need to present. This sentence, “His primary play-by-play beats included college football, basketball and the NH.” should be NHL at the end and not NH. I don’t know what NH is but, I do know what the NHL is.

  14. Andrea says:

    This makes me very sad. ABC’s studio show will not be the same this College Football season. Ditto the Sports Reporters. John Saunders and Stuart Scott must be doing a heck of a SportsCenter up in Heaven about now, but John will be missed here on Earth. My deep condolences to his wife and children whom he seemed to adore. Rest in Peace, John

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  16. Roberta Johnson says:

    So sorry to hear that Adam Saunders passed. I loved to see his great smile and the gleam in his eyes. Listening to the sports will not be the same. God bless his wife and his kids. At least there is one thing to say now…He is with God now….God Bless

  17. Laura Markl says:

    My prayers go out to his family during their time of mourning. I pray that they will be comforted by the Holy Spirit.