Christensen died from complications of surgery, according to a post on Twitter by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, his alma mater. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Christensen had liver and other health issues, without citing the source of its information.
Christensen played in the NFL from 1979 through 1988, spending all but one of his 137 games with the Raiders franchise in Oakland and Los Angeles. He had 461 career receptions for 5,872 yards and 41 touchdowns and made five straight Pro Bowl appearances from 1983 to 1987.
“Todd was an excellent football player and was prolific in the passing game,” Tom Flores, who coached the Raiders in 1979-87, said in a statement released by the team. “He was a hybrid tight end, an H-back before it became a football term.”
Christensen led BYU in receiving for three straight seasons and played on four Western Athletic Conference championship teams. He ended his college career as the Most Valuable Player at the Blue-Gray All-Star Classic.
Christensen entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 1978, and was released after breaking his foot in their final preseason game. He played one game with the New York Giants in 1979 before joining the Raiders, where he was special teams captain for the club that beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl after the 1980 season.
Christensen became a starter during the strike-shortened 1982 season and led the NFL in receptions in 1983 and 1986, when he had a career-high 95 catches. Christensen won a second Super Bowl title with the Raiders following the 1983 season, when he led the team with 12 touchdowns.
“I remember Todd as always using big words and quoting famous authors and poets,” Flores said. “He was comical at times because no one knew what he was talking about.”
A 1992 inductee into the BYU Hall of Fame, Christensen worked as an NFL analyst for NBC after his playing career. He also was a college football analyst for ESPN and the MountainWest Sports Network.
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