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Originally published November 13, 2013 at 8:42 PM | Page modified November 13, 2013 at 9:05 PM

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Former Raider Todd Christensen dies at 57 from complications of liver transplant surgery


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Todd Christensen, a sticky-fingered, record-setting tight end for the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders who made five Pro Bowl teams and played on two Super Bowl champion teams, died on Wednesday in Murray, Utah. He was 57.

The cause was complications of liver-transplant surgery, his son Toby said.

Christensen played 10 seasons for the Raiders, from 1979 to 1988 (the team moved from Oakland to Los Angeles before the 1982 season), initially as a stalwart on special teams but eventually as a favorite receiver for Raiders quarterbacks Jim Plunkett and Marc Wilson.

At 6 feet 3 and 230 pounds, Christensen was not especially swift afoot, but he was strong, with good hands, and he was wily; he had a knack for outthinking defenses and finding unguarded pockets in the middle of the field.

After his playing career, Christensen worked in television as both a college and pro football analyst, a natural second career for an athlete who liked to talk. As a player he was a colorful interview subject and enjoyed marshaling a wide vocabulary in the service of strident opinions and an unusually acute self-awareness.

He went to high school at Sheldon High in Eugene, Ore., and graduated from Brigham Young, where he played fullback and was drafted by Dallas in 1978. He figured he would play fullback in the NFL but was converted to tight end with the Raiders.

Notes

• Former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd, 28, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in starting a drug-distribution scheme while playing for the Chicago Bears, completing a steep downfall that ended his football career and left his future in tatters.

• Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe will start Sunday night’s AFC West showdown against Denver, despite a weekend arrest for speeding and possession of marijuana.

Meanwhile, Peyton Manning (sore ankle) did not practice. Interim coach Jack Del Rio said the quarterback’s status for practice would be determined later in the week but that Manning would definitely play Sunday.

• Minnesota plans to play Jerome Simpson against Seattle, despite drunken-driving charges facing the wide receiver.

• Texans coach Gary Kubiak is back after recovering from a mini-stroke.



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