“John Saunders, one of the familiar on-air faces of ESPN for nearly 30 years, has died. He was 61.
Saunders hosted studio and play-by-play programming. He covered college football, basketball and the NHL for the network, in addition to anchoring SportsCenter. He was also host of The Sports Reporters.
Born in Canada, Saunders was an all-star defenseman in the junior hockey leagues of Montreal. He played at Western Michigan and Ryerson Polytechnical in Toronto before becoming one of the most prominent broadcasters of his time.
Saunders was a founding member of The V Foundation for Cancer Research and served on its board of directors.
“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.”
Editor’s note: The voice. That’s the first thing I think of when I hear his name. His distinctive voice and smooth, professional delivery. A consummate professional. The short video roundtable from ESPN talking about John is worthy of a look, if have a few minutes. Jason Sehorn echoed my thoughts, calling John’s voice “soothing”. The personal notes from his colleagues tell you the kind of man he was, whether on, or off camera.
“At age 61” jumped off the page for me. Too young.